The six-foot-two transfer from Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Florida got hot in the first half and never cooled. The only thing that could stop Waller on Friday night was Coach Jeff Lebo, who put him on the bench for good with 12:18 to play with the game well under control.
Waller finished the night with 27 points in just 21 minutes of playing time. The junior hit 7-12 threes, including several acrobatic shots, and made 10-16 field goals after missing his first two shots.
"For the most part, offensively I played pretty good," Waller said. "Like the coaches said, I had a few mistakes on defense. My shot was falling today and my teammates told me to keep shooting so I did."
Auburn came up two points shy of scoring 100 points for the first time in the Lebo Era, but could have easily done that if Lebo hadn't pulled the starters early. Waller said the Tigers improved in the past week offensively after having a closed scrimmage last Saturday vs. UT-Chattanooga.
"We got better on offense on the execution part," Waller said. "Coach said we weren't executing the offense as the other team was. We worked hard on that all week through practice--nothing but execution on offense. I guess it paid off a little bit today."
Quantez Robertson finished with 19 points. He was 6-7 from the field and a perfect 4-4 on threes. He tied for the team lead in rebounds with 10.
As a team, the Tigers shot 51.3 percent from the field including 15-33 on three-pointers. The only major negative for the Tigers was at the foul line where they hit just 5-14 free throws.
Another guard, DeWayne Reed, finished with 14 points. He hit 6-9 field goals and was 2-4 on threes.
Newcomer Johnnie Lett tied for the team lead in rebounds with 10. The 6-8 juco transfer scored eight points in a starting role in 23 minutes.
Another big man newcomer, 6-10 juco transfer Brendon Knox, scored seven points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench and earned praise from Lebo.
The Tigers got seven points from freshman walk-on forward Jake Drum from Spain Park, who played seven minutes late in the game.
Lucas Hargrove started and scored seven points. "I thought defensively, he wasn't particularly good," Lebo said of the junior.
Korvotney Barber had a quiet night with four points, four rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes as a starter.
Walk-on guard Larry Williams was 1-7 on threes for three points. Freshman walk-on guard Josh Wallace was more impressive. He scored three points, added five assists and a steal in 12 minutes while playing good defense.
Juco transfer Francis Aihe, a 6-9 forward and center, played nine minutes and was 0-4 from the field. He had two rebounds and an assist.
Lebo said he liked the play of Robertson and Reed. "They did play well," he stated. "They are experienced players. Tez is just a warrior. You have him out on the court he does so many things for you. He is stronger this year and his athleticism has gotten better with his strength.
Quantez Robertson runs the floor vs. Morehouse on Friday night.
"Reed made some of the extra passes," lebo said. "I thought he didn't turn the ball over as much tonight as he did last year. That is something we have made an emphasis with him on."
The visitors shot 36.2 percent from the field and turned the ball over 23 times to 10 for Auburn. They were also out-rebounded 47-35 by Auburn.
"I thought we did some good things," Lebo said. "The best thing about the exhibition games is you get a chance to watch the film, devour it, break it down, show the guys goods and bads. We only have to focus on five guys vs. practice when we are focusing on 10.
"I thought we did some good things. We didn't turn the ball over much. I thought we made the extra pass for the most part and shot the ball pretty well from three. Of course, (Tay) is going to help our shooting percentage, obviously, from three."
The Tigers started slow offensively, but got cranked up in the second 10 minutes of the opening half to take a 46-22 lead at intermission.
Waller led the way with 18 points at halftime, hitting 7-10 field goals including 4-7 threes. Robertson had 10 points at the break.
In the first half the Tigers hit an even 50 percent of their 38 field goals and were 6-16 from three-point land, but just 2-7 on free throws. At halftime the Tigers led in rebounding 23-20 and had just five turnovers, eight fewer than the visitors.
The Tigers will open the regular season next Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Missouri State.
News and Notes: Senior Rasheem Barrett, a probable starter, and freshman Frankie Sullivan did not play due to injuries. Barrett is rehabbing a groin pull while Sullivan is working to bounce back from a high ankle sprain. Barrett has seen some limited action in practice. He is considered "day to day," Lebo says. Sullivan is still several weeks away from playing, Lebo said...Barrett has 1,069 points, which is 25th in Auburn history. With 37 more points he can surpass Derrick Dennison, Bubba Price, Bryant Smith and Lance Weems...Morehouse, a Division II program from Atlanta, is picked to finish third in the SIAC this season.