"I thought his pressure was good," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "I thought he made plays. He rebounded, he did a lot of things that were solid. Without question he played a great overall game."
Playing tenacious defense for the entire 40 minutes, the Tigers broke open a tie game at the half by scoring 28 of the first 35 second-half points to put the game away in the opening minutes. Junior guard Derrick Bird got the half off to a good start with a three-pointer just seconds into the stanza, his first points of the game. From that moment until almost the 10-minute mark, Auburn controlled every phase of the game from rebounding to turnovers.
Leading 41-37 with just over 16 minutes left, the Tigers went on a binge created by steals from Daniels and Bird. Over the span of three minutes, Auburn would amass four steals that led directly to four Tiger baskets, three of which came on dunks. Running the court like madmen, the Tigers ran the Thundering Herd out to pasture with wave after wave of bodies as 10 different players scored in the game.
"Definitely the pressure of our team was the difference in the game," Ellis said following the win. "I thought we created it with our pressure. Our team really played well on both ends. Defensively, we made stops and it led to easy buckets. We out-rebounded Marshall. I think it's one of the few times we've out-rebounded anybody. I thought our team played well and it was created by the pressure."
Holding a commanding 60-41 lead after two J.R. Van Hoose free throws for Marshall at the 9:56 point in the second half, Auburn would hold the lead by playing outstanding defense and holding on to the ball. Much of the credit for the Tigers' success in the second half should go to Lincoln Glass.
In his first action since his return from academic suspension, Glass scored four points and had four assists in 19 minutes of action. But it was his leadership and calming influence that was an important piece of Auburn's puzzle Saturday night.
"It was good to see him," Ellis noted of Glass. "He got in the game and I thought he made a lot of things happen. He was in the flow of it. It was his first game. We see four assists and one turnover--that's a good stat for Lincoln to open it up with. He's going to shoot the ball. Those shots didn't fall but that's the first game. Those shots are going to be there."
In addition to Daniels' outstanding play, Brandon Robinson chipped in 15 points and six rebounds. Mobile native Mack McGadney added nine points in his final game in front of the home folks while Kyle Davis and Bird added eight each. Marco Killingsworth came off the bench to score seven points and pulled down six assists.
"It was a great opportunity for us in my homecoming, my senior year at Auburn University," McGadney said. "I'm just thankful that Auburn gave me the opportunity to come here two years. I came to my hometown two years, my sophomore and my senior years. This is the way to go out and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
Van Hoose led the way for Marshall with 16 points while Enoch Bunch added 14 but committed nine turnovers from the point guard spot. Leading scorer Tamar Slay was held to just 10 points in the game, 12 below his season average. Slay scored just two points in the first 48 minutes and 33 seconds thanks to the play of Bird and Adam Harrington, who spent the majority of the evening hawking the six-foot nine-inch guard.
"Slay got five of his 10 points the last two or three minutes," Ellis said. "Derrick Bird has shut down everybody he has played this year. He has been a constant. The others picked it up but Derrick Bird, what you saw tonight is what he's done all year. But Marquis picked it up and Adam picked it up. That perimeter pressure was awesome."
Harrington was questionable going into the game because of an injury to his jaw that required surgery on Friday. He did not practice all week.
Auburn dished out 20 assists in the game compared to 13 for Marshall, but the key statistic was in the steal department. The Tigers came up with an astounding 16 steals with Dwayne Mitchell totaling four in 18 minutes of action. For the first time in four games the Tigers out-rebounded an opponent by totaling 35 boards to 33 for Marshall.
The first half got off to a good start for the Tigers as they built as much as a nine-point lead on the Thundering Herd thanks to the play of Daniels. However, it would be a Daniels' dunk that would become the turning point in a strange first 20 minutes.
Following a steal by McGadney in the backcourt, Daniels broke open down the court and did a reverse-dunk to give the Tigers a 30-21 lead. However official Gerald Boudreaux thought the junior from Orlando held on to the rim a little too long and gave him a technical foul. That occurred at the 4:24 mark left in the first half and from that point forward Marshall would outscore the Tigers 12-3 to enter the half tied at 32.
Leading the way for Auburn in the first half was Daniels with eight points while Robinson added seven.
Auburn returns to action Tuesday night when they entertain the South Alabama Jaguars at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on FoxSports South.