Davis explained following the game that his brother Jalen was the inspiration for his big performance. "Before I played the game I called my four-year-old brother and he told me to score some points for him because I knew that he would be watching (on television)," Davis said. "So, I just wanted to go with that aspect of I'm playing this game for him and I just used everything that Coach (Cliff) Ellis taught me and Coach (Shannon) Weaver taught me and it just worked out."
Offensively, both teams seemed uncomfortable in the early going as the Tigers and Rams combined for seven turnovers and only eight points in the first five minutes of the game.
Then with 13:41 remaining in the half an Ian Young three-pointer began the Tigers' offensive assault and gave them a 7-4 lead that they would never relinquish.
Kyle Davis scores for the Tigers on Monday night.
Offensively, the Tigers were led by two big men and two newcomers. Davis led all scorers with his 21 points and he was followed closely by forward Marco Killingsworth, who dropped in 19 points of his own along with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Young, who transferred from Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, hit three of five three-pointers on the night and finished with 13 points, two assists and no turnovers at the point. Fellow transfer Ronny LeMelle added nine points by hitting each of the three-pointers that he attempted.
After the game Young explained that he is getting a better feel for the game and running the point every time that he hits the court. "The game is slowing down now for me," the junior said. "In practice coach puts so much pressure on me and sends so many people at me that now in the games the game is going a lot slower, where at first the game was fast to me. So, it is slowing down and I am getting a lot more comfortable at the point."
The Tigers continued their trend of shooting the ball well on Monday night as they hit 53.4 percent of their shots from the floor, 56.3 percent from behind the line and 76.5 percent from the free throw line.
The most surprising aspect of Monday night's game may have been the Tigers' ability to control the Rams so well defensively. For the night the visitors only managed to score 54 points and shot only 35.3 percent from the floor, which are 14 points and 15 percent below their season averages. Along with the poor shooting the Tigers forced the Rams into 23 turnovers that led to 28 Auburn points.
Auburn's Ellis said that he was generally impressed with what he saw. "I thought that our defense overall was very good--we forced 23 turnovers and that is a good sign."
The Tigers were also able to control the game in the paint on Monday night against a physical team with a couple of big guys that can bang inside. Auburn out-rebounded the Rams 37-26 and also dominated the points in the paint outscoring Colorado State 40-24.
"I was really pleased with our inside game because their inside game is very strong and I thought we matched it and at the same time we got good inside outside play," Ellis said.
Early in the second half the Tigers made a nice run to stretch their 36-18 halftime lead to an even 30 points. Davis added six of his 21 points in the five-minute Tiger run. So did LeMelle as he hit two of his three point shots during the push.
The Rams were led by their NBA prospect junior center, who was easily outshined and contained by both Davis and Killingsworth. Matt Nelson managed only 12 points and four rebounds in the losing effort.
Sophomore guard Freddy Robinson had 11 points and four boards for the Rams while senior forward Ronnie Clark dropped in nine points. Michael Morris, the son of former Auburn star Chris Morris who attended the game, contributed eight points and five assists.
The Tigers really put the final stamp on the game in a span of just over a minute. It started with 5:10 remaining as Killingsworth jammed home a missed Davis lay-up with authority. Then with four minutes remaining Nathan Watson nailed a pretty three-pointer to put the Tigers up 78-45. Then Brandon Robinson, who was neutralized early due to foul trouble, put up what is quickly becoming his signature jam--a double pump reverse slam off of a nice steal and assist from Watson.
Overall Ellis said that he was quite surprised by the way the game developed and how well the Tigers played for most of the contest. "I was very surprised," he said. "Colorado State is going to play better than they played tonight, but you have got to give our team credit. I thought our run game and press game took advantage of them. I tell you the last 35 minutes I don't know if we could play any better."