The Tigers shot a sizzling 68.3 percent as Marquis Daniels, Derrick Bird, Marco Killingsworth and Kyle Davis were impressive from start to finish on a clear the bench and play everybody but the water boy kind of performance.
*Killingsworth finished the evening with 24 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists. He also passed the ball well and showed nice shooting touch both inside and from the perimeter. He made 10-14 field goals and two of three treys.
*Bird put on a show both offensively and defensively. He finished with 24 points while hitting 9-10 shots. He added three assists and two steals. Bird harassed the Panthers with his strong defense and consistently drove to the basket like a man on a mission. After Georgia State star guard Lamont McIntosh got off to a strong start, Ellis switched the assignments and the senior quickly shut down McIntosh's scoring and helped force him into seven turnovers. Bird also made three of his four three-pointers.
Derrick Bird plays defense against Lamont McIntosh.
*Daniels was his usual smooth self, scoring inside and on midrange shots off his dribble. He finished the night with a game-high 27 points. He added seven assists and three steals and made 12-15 shots.
*Kyle Davis hit seven of nine shots, added five rebounds and nine blocked shots.
"Tonight is a reflection of 35 years," Ellis said. "As far as Division I--27. The relationships I have had with players, coaches, friends, fans and people in the media--it's just been a wonderful journey. When you have something like this it just brings it to light how blessed you are coaching the game."
Georgia State coach Lefty Driesell was a former rival of Ellis when the Auburn coach was at Clemson and Driesell was coach at Maryland. Ironically, Driesell faced Clemson and Ellis when he was trying to win his 500th game and Clemson upset the 19th-ranked Terps. Driesell called Tuesday night's game in Auburn "a men vs. the boys matchup" while Ellis said he was very surprised at how easily the Tigers defeated a team that was expected to seriously test Auburn.
Ellis and 33 other Division I coaches have 500 career victories. Ellis is the all-time winningest coach at South Alabama (171-84) and Clemson (177-128). His Auburn record is (152-99).
"This is a great feeling," Killingsworth said. "Whatever happened, we just wanted to come out and play hard and show Coach Ellis that we wanted to get this win for him real bad."
Daniels agreed and added, "We came out before the game and we were like 500 is all we want. Five hundred speaks for itself." Daniels, who finished three assists shy of getting the first triple-double in Auburn history, added, "Coach Ellis is a tremendous person and we are really happy we could win this game for him."
Ellis asked his Tigers to come out and play with a lot of effort, but even he admits he was surprised at what happened as the Tigers hit 68.3 percent of their fields and 5-10 three-pointers. "We were possessed," he said. "When you shoot 70 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point line and right at 70 percent from the foul line and get everybody in, you can't ask for much more than that."
Auburn led most of the first half before the Panthers tied the game at 28-28 at the 6:55 mark before the Tigers answered with a pair of threes and two more baskets.
Bird got it started by nailing a three from the corner. Daniels stretched the lead by hitting one of his off-the-dribble runners in the lane. Bird then nailed another three after a blocked shot by Davis. The Tigers moved the lead into double figures as Daniels scored inside. The 10-0 run took just 1:54.
Georgia State finally stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer by former University of Alabama player Cedric Patton. However, the Tigers kept the heat on offensively and defensively and stretched the margin to 48-32 at halftime as Daniels hit a runner in the lane just before the break.
At the break, the Tigers were sizzling from the field, hitting 20-30 shots from the field, including five of eight three-pointers with Bird making all three of his tries. The Tigers also enjoyed a 19-12 rebounding edge against the taller Panthers.
Auburn kept the heat on to start the second half. The Tigers stretched the lead to 60-38 at the 16:05 mark on a spectacular individual effort by Bird. The senior guard took the ball away from guard McIntosh, the preseason pick for the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year. Bird then beat two defenders inside for the layup and a 60-38 Auburn lead.
Marco Killingsworth had a big night for the Tigers.
That run was impressive, but the Tigers were not done. With plays that included a spectacular slam from from Killingsworth and a beautiful lob feed to Killingsworth from Daniel, the Tigers stretched the lead to 72-39 at the 12:42 mark with the Tigers shooting close to 70 percent from the field during the stretch.
Auburn returns to action on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn., where they will play the 19th-ranked Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Auburn's next home game is a day later on Monday, Dec. 2nd as the Tigers take on Southeastern Louisiana.
With three more assists, Marquis Daniels would have had the first triple-double in Auburn basketball history.
Georgia State responded with a 14-4 run to cut the Auburn lead to 76-53 before Ellis called a timeout. Immediately out of the break, Davis got a breakway jam as the Tigers beat the press with a long pass. After that, the home team never looked back.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Georgia State had three players from the state of Alabama on the roster--6-7 forward Cedric Patton from Hunstville, 6-5 guard Leroy Davis from Tuscaloosa and 6-8 forward/center Kendrick Alloway from Montgomery. Alloway played at Robert E. Lee High and Auburn's Marco Killingsworth, his cousin, was the star at rival Sidney Lanier High. Killingsworth was a sophomore when he Alloway was a senior. "He was the man then, but I went by him a few times," Killingsworth said with a smile...Freshman guard Steve Leven will be back with the team, Ellis said Tuesday night, but would not give a specific date. He was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules...The Tigers played again without Brandon Robinson, who is being held out while AU awaits a ruling on his eligibility from the NCAA...Junior Rodney Tucker had an MRI on Tuesday to check out his sore back. The diagnosis was that he has a bulging disk and he was cleared to play. He had a two-hand jam in the final minute for Auburn's 99th and 100th point.