For Huntsville area native Brandon Robinson it was a very successful homecoming. The former Buckhorn High star led all scorers with 21 points as he made 6-8 field goals and 9-14 free throws. The junior forward also added six rebounds, six steals and five assists to the Tigers' effort. Along with the impressive numbers, Robinson got the pro-Auburn crowd on its feet with his spectacular dunks.
Robinson noted that he really enjoyed playing in front of his friends and family and said he could certainly hear their support during the game. One voice stood out among the 4,004 fans at the Von Braun Center. "I could hear a lot of that, especially from my mom," Robinson said with a smile. "The way that she is always yelling that is all that you can really hear."
Auburn coach Cliff Ellis had praise for the junior forward noting that "without a doubt" Robinson is playing well. "In my opinion he has stepped up to another level and I have said that throughout this early part of our season," Ellis noted.
Auburn came out on fire offensively to start the game as the Tigers pulled out to a quick 12-0 lead on an emphatic breakaway dunk by Robinson with 16:45 remaining in the first half.
Grambling fought back with buckets by junior forward Larry Haygood and freshman forward Anthony Williams to pull it to 12-4 with 15:11 remaining in the half. However, that was as close as the totally outmatched Tigers would ever get as Auburn continued to pull away for the remainder of the first half and closed out the first period with a 52-16 lead.
On the defensive end the Tigers were very stingy in the first half as Auburn held Grambling under double digit scoring until 9:15 in the first half when sophomore forward Brion Rush hit a three pointer to make the score 29-11. Auburn racked up 13 steals in the first half and held Grambling to 26.9 percent shooting from the floor. To compound its problems, Grambling couldn't even make a foul shot in the first half, going 0-7 at the free throw line in the first half and finishing with just 11-24 for the game.
Ellis said he liked the fact that the Tigers played everybody on the roster and that Robinson and Fort Payne's Nathan Watson got to play near their homes. "I was glad that he and Nathan were able to come in and play in front of the people who are close to them," Ellis said. "Also it gives us a chance to get away from Auburn, to get a road routine of what it's like because we have got new guys doing that."
The Tigers came out as hot in the second half as they were in the first. Two major back to back alley-oop dunks in the first five minutes excited the Huntsville crowd as the Tigers continued to extend their lead. The first jam was a huge reverse alley-oop from junior guard Quinnel Brown to Robinson and on the second jam Brown put it down off of a nice crisp pass from junior guard Ian Young.
Along with those two huge alley-oop jams, the Tiger faithful were treated to quite a show as the Auburn big men had a myriad of highlight reel type dunks on Saturday night. Senior center Kyle Davis had a huge fully extended one handed jam that racked the rim in the second half. Robinson added an exclamation point on his performance with a double pump reverse jam on a breakaway pass from a Chris Lollar steal. Reserve forward Rodney Tucker also added a couple of late jams as the reserves saw action in the blowout.
Robinson was asked who he believed would have been the winner if Saturday night's game had been a slam dunk contest. At first said he didn't know, but finally admitted, "I would probably go with me." He probably would have been right in his assumption.
With all of the offensive fireworks it was not surprising that five Tigers finished the night scoring in double figures. The Tigers were led by Robinson's 21. Davis and Marco Killingsworth each added 14 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Ronny LeMelle added 13 points and hit two of three from behind the arc and added five assists.
Watson, whose mom was in attendance Saturday night, dropped in 11 points for the Tigers while also hitting two of three from behind the arc.
All of the reserves saw action in Saturday night's contest as Ellis cleared that bench with 5:04 remaining in the game to cheers of we want Danny (Danny Wicke) from the small group of pep band members in attendance. Troy Gaines went two of four from three-point land to score six late points for the Tigers. Tucker added eight points and two rebounds and senior guard Jonathon Lewis added four points on the night.
For Grambling three players did most of the damage late in the second half. Rush led the losers in scoring with 14 points as he hit four three-pointers. Williams also chipped in 13 points and three rebounds and senior forward Paul Haynes added 10 points and four boards.
Ellis said even though Auburn jumped to a big early lead that his team kept its edge on Saturday night. "I thought our team stayed focused," he said. "It clearly was a mismatch, but you worry about getting sloppy or the game getting away. You worry about an injury and none of that happened. So I thought that we came in took care of business."
The Tigers have a quick turnaround as they play the Colorado State Rams on Monday night in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn.
"Now we have got a huge game with Colorado State Monday night and I mean huge," Ellis said. "From the standpoint of College of Charleston and Western Kentucky, it's an NCAA tournament team. They lost to Duke in a close one last year in the NCAAs and we have got to come right back Monday and play them back home so we have got to change our focus immediately."
Hot-shooting Auburn hit 64.8 percent of its shots as AU ran its record to 4-0. Grambling, 0-3, was held to 35.7 percent shooting. Auburn made 7-13 three-pointers and was 28-44 at the free throw line.
Senior center Kyle Davis and his Tigers had no problems with Grambling. Davis blocked two shots and added five rebounds.
Auburn controlled the boards, too, holding a 41-29 rebounding margin. Auburn came through with 19 steals on the way to forcing 25 turnovers. Auburn turned the ball over 18 times
Basketball Notes: Auburn improved its all-time record to 3-0 vs. Grambling...Auburn handled Grambling with much more ease than fellow SEC Western Division team Arkansas, which defeated Grambling 54-46 on Tuesday...The game at the Von Braun Center was just the second time the Tigers have played in Huntsville. Auburn lost to Tennessee Tech 72-70 in 1989...Auburn is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since the 1998-99 season when the Tigers won 17 straight on their way to the SEC Championship.