The Tigers nailed 17-21 free throws on Thursday night, a marked improved from game one when they struggled at the foul line making just 10-22 tries. Turnovers were not a problem in game two after committing 15 in the opener the Tigers had just nine vs. Global Sports.
"We have been working hard on our free throws," said junior forward Brandon Robinson, who was four for four at the free throw line on the way to scoring 14 points with five steals, two assists, three rebounds and no turnovers. "We shoot 100 free throws after every practice and most of the guys are recording up in the 80s so I felt pretty good about it tonight," Robinson added.
Brandon Robinson dunks vs. Global Sports.
Auburn's leading scorer on Thursday night, forward Marco Killingsworth, said the improved free throw shooting helped. "Coach (Shannon) Weaver has been working with me and Kyle (center Kyle Davis), especially after last game. Me and Kyle were like two for nine." Killingsworth scored 15 points and added six rebounds. He hit three of four free throws.
Ian Young started at the point guard in place of injured Lewis Monroe and had a solid game with 11 points, seven assists and three turnovers in 31 minutes. He hit four of seven field goals and all four of his foul shots.
Davis added 10 points for the Tigers with four rebounds and two blocked shots and didn't show any signs of his ankle problem that bothered him in the opener.
The Tigers rebounded from a dreadful start when they fell behind 12-0 to a team that lost 75-69 to Alabama in its last game on Nov. 8th. The Tide is the only other SEC team on its exhibition tour.
After Coach Cliff Ellis called a timeout the Tigers turned up the defensive pressure and quickly rallied with a 18-5 run to take the lead at the 9:26 mark of the first half on a banked jump shot by Brown, who scored seven points and added three rebounds and two steals. The Tigers took the lead for good on another Brown jump shot to go ahead 23-22 at the 6:22 mark and stretched the lead to 41-35 by halftime.
The Tigers play the regular season opener on Monday night vs. a veteran College of Charleston team that will visit Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. "I feel we are ready with all of the veterans and newcomers coming together as a team," Robinson said. "We had a lot of leadership going on tonight. Us playing together tonight, I feel a lot better than I did the first game. I think everybody has prepared enough, both mentally and physically, to come out and start the season."
Robinson said that the Tigers are taking College of Charleston very seriously. "We have been watching a lot of film on them. College of Charleston is a good team. You know they won 25 games and made it to the NCAA Tournament. It is just like an SEC game, really."
Ellis said College of Charleston will pressure Auburn much more than the two exhibition teams did. Robinson agreed and said Charleston reminds him of Arkansas and Mississippi State in style of play. "They do a lot of running and trapping," Robinson noted. "We have got to get everybody physically prepared to fight through all of that."
Killingsworth said College of Charleston has his attention, too. "They are sort of like an SEC school. They ain't no rinky-dink team."
Auburn won the rebounding battle 33-24 on Thursday night and forced 19 turnovers while making 10 steals with the help of full-court pressure.
Ronny LeMelle scored seven points off the bench while Chris Lollar and Troy Gaines added five points. Walk-on Moses Edun put in a garbage-time three-pointer to round out the scoring for the home team.
Newcomer Ronny LeMelle hit three of four field goals vs. Global Sports.
Ellis, who was unhappy with the defense after the first game, said there was definite improvement in that area. He said that backup guards Watson and Lollar helped spark the defensive effort.
"We have got a long way to go," Ellis cautioned, who said the Tigers will have their hands full next week with games vs. College of Charleston and Western Kentucky. "They are like NCAA games," Ellis said. "You look at College of Charleston, I am just going to tell you, this basketball team is for real."