Led by freshman forward Rasheem Barrett, who continued his tremendous play with 21 points on 7-10 shooting from the floor, the Tigers made 27-45 shots for 60 percent. It was Barrett's third straight 19-plus point game.
"Overall we did a nice job of moving the basketball," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "Rasheem played very well again. I told my team, ‘Just because you scored a lot of points doesn't mean you played well.' When I watch the film I'll tell you how well Rasheem played.
"We did some good things out there," he added. "Tez (point guard Quantez Robertson) struggled a little bit from the field, but played well with seven assists and only one turnover."
Barrett was named SEC Freshman of the Week after making 8-12 field goals for 19 points against Winthrop and 9-14 for 28 points against Jacksonville State. He has averaged 22.7 points on 67 percent shooting in the last three games.
"I work hard in practice and I'm glad I'm doing well coming in as a freshman," Barrett said. "I doing good and I want to see how it works against the SEC, and keep my head up. I've been feeding off my teammates and that's the main thing."
Daniel Hayles was a surprise scorer for Auburn with 17 points. The junior guard/forward connected on 3-4 three-point attempts to add a nice complement to Barrett's mid-range game.
Daniel Hayles tied his career high with 17 points.
Auburn led for much of the game, but Southern Miss put up a fight early. After back to back threes by Barrett and Hayles, Auburn led 17-9 midway through the first half. However, the Golden Eagles went on a 14-2 run capped off by a steal and three-pointer by guard Travis Hall, which gave them a 23-19 advantage.
Barrett and Hayles then ignited the Auburn offense by scoring the team's next 10 points as the Tigers took a 42-28 lead into the locker room.
As a crowd of 2,035 watched, Southern Miss fought back in the second half and pulled to within 53-46 with 12:17 to play. Following a lay-in by Korvotney Barber, Hayles again changed the momentum into Auburn's favor with a fast break lay-up off a steal by Ronny LeMelle. Hayles was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to put the Tigers up by 12. The route was on from there as Auburn closed the game on a 27-11 run.
Southern Miss, which had scored less than 36 points in three games already this season, scored a respectable 57 against Auburn on 20-51 shooting. Because Auburn made most of its shots on the night, the Golden Eagles had only nine defensive rebounds. They had 16 offensive rebounds as both teams pulled down 25 boards for the game. Both teams had 13 turnovers.
Lebo said he was extremely pleased with the way his players made foul shots as they hit 19-22.
The Tigers open SEC play at Vanderbilt on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on JP Sports. Lebo said after the win that he is pleased with how far his young squad has come heading into the match-up with the Commodores.
"We're in better shape than I thought we'd be at this points but we still have a long way to go," Lebo said. "We struggle on the road, but many teams do. We've been in every game, even though we've lost a few, except for one at Pittsburgh.
"We need leadership on the road," he added. "We need to coddle some leadership on this team since we only have one senior (LeMelle) and he's really not vocal. 8-3...I wouldn't say we would have done that."
Noting that his Southern Miss team is young just like Auburn, Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy says his rebuilding job is "similar to what is going on here at just kind of a different level."
" It really is similar," he says. "I am sure Jeff gets frustrated at times with the lack of consistency. Sometimes you never really know what to expect. In rebuilding a program, you have to establish a base. You have to find out who your leaders are and when recruits come they sign your players for you. It is just a long process. I think both programs kind of mirror each other in different leagues."
Eustachy's team, which matched Auburn on the boards as both teams had 25 points, shot 39.2 percent from the field. Each team had just 13 turnovers.
"Auburn is a young, talented team," the USM coach said. "This is as good as I have seen them play. We couldn't match their athleticism at times,and I think we got outplayed at times, too. That Auburn team is going to be good."