Tigers Start Season With 83-74 Win Over Georgia Southern
SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS
In its first game since the Final Four, No. 24 Auburn opened the 2019-20 season with an 83-74 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday night.
The Tigers rolled out a brand new starting lineup that featured only player that started in last year’s Final Four game, but it didn’t seem to matter as four of the five starters scored in double figures, including a game-high 20 points for senior Samir Doughty.
Doughty, who scored Auburn’s first points of the season with a lay-up, also added five rebounds, four steals and three assists in 32 minutes.
“Samir made plays,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “In a lot of ways, he won the ballgame for us. He makes plays, offensively and defensively. It’s good to have him on the ball. It’s good to have him off the ball. I thought he had great composure and gave us great confidence.”
Fellow seniors Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley were next on the team with 13 points apiece. Purifoy knocked down a team-high three 3-pointers, and Wiley, despite only playing 20 minutes, just missed a double-double with a team-best nine rebounds.
Point guard J’Von McCormick struggled early with pressure and was held scoreless in the first half, but the senior finished with nine points in the second half and made winning plays down the stretch. Seven of his nine points came in the final six minutes during a 13-4 run that allowed the Tigers to pull away.
Freshman Isaac Okoro, the lone underclassmen in Auburn’s starting lineup, scored 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting and also grabbed five rebounds in his Auburn debut.
“He was efficient, flying around,” Doughty said. “He was doing the little stuff that we’re used to him doing, posting him up. We’re going to use him a lot more than y’all think, but I think he played a good all-around game.”
For Okoro, the first basket of his career was a putback that looked more incidental than anything. However, a few possessions later, the decorated freshman received his “Welcome to Auburn” moment when he sliced through the middle of the lane and threw down a two-handed dunk.
Jamal Johnson and Devan Cambridge also impressed in their first game with the Tigers. Johnson, a transfer who sat out all of last season, finished with eight points and five rebounds in 12 minutes, and Cambridge knocked down back-to-back 3s in the final minute of the first half. Thanks to the freshman’s spurt, Auburn grabbed a 41-37 lead at the break.
It was a dominant performance inside for an Auburn team that outrebounded Georgia State, 41-27, and had five players pull down five or more rebounds.
Next up for the Tigers (1-0) is a trip to Annapolis, Maryland where they will face Davidson on Friday as a part of the Veterans Classic.
“(Davidson) is absolutely a team and program you don’t schedule,” Pearl said. “You stay away from Bob (McKillop). Period. The end. They shoot the three. They’re a veteran team. They bring everyone back. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
The game is scheduled to tip at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.