Denson led all scorers with 17 points as the Tigers won back-to-back games for the first time this season to improve their record to 4-5. Furman fell to 3-6.
The junior guard hit 7-10 field goals and 3-4 free throws. He did not attempt a three-pointer, but his teammates hit 8-17 vs. the Paladins.
Denson missed the first seven games, but now that he is academically eligible he has started the last two outings. "When Coach Barbee put me back in the starting lineup that was an automatic boost to my confidence," he said. "I knew what I had to do when I came back."
Furman, which relies heavily on the three-point shot, made just 5-22 treys, a statistic that Coach Tony Barbee said was a key to his team's victory.
"I thought we guarded the three-point line, which was our main focus with this team," Barbee said. "The last game they had 15 made threes. Today they had five. They are a team that can really, really shoot the ball."
Barbee was not as pleased with his team's performance in the second half. The Tigers were outscored 30-29 in the final 20 minutes. "I thought we got content with the 15-point lead at halftime and that is how we came out and played.
"Like I told the guys, it is not about who we played, it is about us getting better," Barbee said. "Obviously, we want to win against whoever we play, but obviously this level is not going to be good enough for some of the teams we have got coming up fairly soon. I think they understand it. That is where we have to grow and matures as a team."
The three-point assault was led by freshman Jordan Price, who was 4-4 on treys for a second straight game.
Senior guard Frankie Sullivan contributed 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Tigers.
The Tigers out-rebounded the Paladins 42-29 led by centers Asauhn Dixon-Tatum with nine rebounds and Rob Chubb with eight. However, Barbee said neither player was tough enough to get the job done offensively. Chubb made just 2-8 field goals. Dixon-Tatum hit 3-10.
The coach praised the toughness he saw out of Denson, who has improved in all areas of his game, especially on defense. "I say that comes from what I have learned over time since my freshman year," Denson said. "My freshman year I was terrible defensively, but I watched a lot of film. Coach Barbee said in order to play a lot of minutes on this team you have to do good defensively."
Barbee noted that a current project is to get Price to improve defensively, which the coach said is the freshman guard's major weakness. Price noted that he has heard those comments before from the head coach and added he is trying to get better with that part of the game.
"Defense equals more minutes," he said. "I know I need to get better on the defensive end so I will be able to help my team out on the offensive end."
Chris Denson drives to the hoop for the Tigers.
Furman jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead before the Tigers took the lead at the 15:48 mark on a runner in the lane by Denson to put the home team up 8-7. Auburn never trailed after that.
Auburn's first double-digits lead came at 29-17 at the 3:09 when Shaquille Johnson banked in a long-range jumper for three points.
The Tigers allowed Paladins, who rely on their three-pointers, to make just one in the first half allowing the Tigers to take a 35-20 lead into the break.
The Tigers shot 48 percent from the field in the second half, but were outscored 30-29 after intermission.
Furman coach Chuck Jackson said, "I thought we really battled. We just missed some shots in the first half against a team of that quality and we got behind the eight ball because we didn't shoot the ball well from the three in the first half."
Furman was led by Colin Reddick, who scored 14 points, and Kendrec Ferrara who added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Barbee used 10 payers. Other than the trio in double figures the top score was Dixon-Tatum with six points followed by Allen Payne with five.
Shaquille Johnson, who won praise from Barbee for his defense, added four points as did Chubb while Noel Johnson finished with three points.
Halftime Stats: Auburn 13-33 field goals for 39.4 percent to Furman's 6-29 for 20.7 percent. Auburn hit 5-11 first-half threes while Furman made just 1-11. the Paladins got into the one-and-one with more than 11 minutes left in the period and made 7-9 free throws.
The Tigers helped build their 15-point lead at the break with a 28-17 rebounding advantage that more than overcame seven turnovers vs. four for the Paladins.
Points In the Paint: Auburn led that statistic 32-18.
Fastbreak Points: Auburn won that statistic 8-0.
Up Next: The Tigers will return to action Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Auburn Arena (assuming the world doesn't end on Monday like the Mayans predicted).