Senior guard Nathan Watson led all scorers with 19 points. He was 5-8 on threes and 7-11 overall.
"It felt pretty good today," Watson said. "I have been shooting the ball pretty well the last few games, and it felt good. We played very hard. Our defensive pressure was up the whole game, and I think we played defense real well."
Senior forward Quinnell Brown, who sparked the Tigers to a 31-25 halftime lead, scored 18 points for the winners. He was 6-9 from the field and 5-5 at the free throw line for Coach Jeff Lebo's team, which will play Middle Tennessee State at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time (11 a.m. CST) on Tuesday in round two of the three-day event.
The Tigers got 13 points from freshman guard Toney Douglas, who hit 4-11 field goals. Rulon Wshington scored 12 for the Blue Hens.
Auburn was able to overcome a big rebounding disadvantage. Delware won the battle of the boards 41-27. However, Auburn had 12 fewer turnovers and allowed the Blue Hens to make just 1-14 three pointers while the Tigers made 9-23 at Angola Coliseum.
"Defensively, we made them turn it over and got some points off the turnovers," Tigers' coach Jeff Lebo said. "Toney got off to a better start in the second half, scoring 13 points after going scoreless in the first half. Nathan really made some shots for us early. He has shot the ball well the last couple of games from three, so we will have to continue to do that. I think Middle Tennessee State is the best team in the tournament, and we play them next."
Defense was a key to the victory, particularly in the second half when the Tigers outscored Delaware 43-21 and held the Blue Hens to 27.3 shooting. For the game Auburn made 47.1 percent of its shots while the losers made just 34 percent.
Lebo said he wanted to use his bench heavily with three games in three days. Watson and Young played the most minutes with 30 apiece. Five substitutes saw action--Frank Tolbert, Brett Howell, Ryan Daniel, Moses Edun and Troy Gaines.
"It was nice to play some of those guys 27, 28, 29, 30 minutes instead of high amounts of minutes like 38 and 39," Lebo explained. "It was big for us to be able to sit them with a nice cushion. Our kids came in off the bench and sustained it as opposed to other times when we had to put them back in."