AUBURN, Ala. – The calendar has officially flipped to November, which means that Auburn basketball is back in full swing. The Tigers took to the court against Auburn-Montgomery in an exhibition game, ending in a score of 102-66 in the Tigers favor.
A trio of transfers led the way with an impressive 47 points. Denver Jones had a team-high 18 points, while. Chad Baker-Mazara finished the game with 15 points, and Chaney Johnson tallied 14 points.
“Those guys are good,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said about the newcomers. “They have a chance to make us a better team. They all have great ability. Really efficient players, pretty high basketball IQ.”
Jones shinned behind the arc with four of Auburn’s five 3-pointers. The FIU transfer has seen increased playing time at point guard, something that has not been asked since junior college. The seasoned shooting guard has excelled not only at the position but at possessing the ball.
“We got great point guard play from Denver and Tre in the last game,” Pearl said, referencing Auburn’s closed scrimmage Saturday vs. Furman. “For the second game in a row, Denver didn’t turn it over. Playing a new position, that’s really good.”
One highly anticipated newcomer would not see action. Freshman Aden Holloway did not dress out for the game due to a tweaked ankle, according to Pearl. The guard is expected to be ready for the season opener next Tuesday against Baylor.
Johni Broome would hit the deck early in the contest, ultimately forcing the center to leave the game. The center is dealing with a rotator cuff issue from the fall and was held out for precautionary reasons.
Dylan Cardwell saw an increase of minutes, due to the lack of Broome, and came just one point shy of a double-double because of a cramp in what was an impressive game. The center was dominate up until that point, scoring nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds in 21 minutes.
The Tigers could not get shots to fall early on, but eventually would find a 23-2 run midway through the first half. Most of the success came in the paint as the team finished with 50 points in that area of the court.
From distance Auburn struggled all night, finishing 5-for-25. K.D. Johnson would be the lone Tiger other than Denver Jones to connect from behind the arc.
Despite the lack of shots falling, it is not a concern quite yet for the team.
“Tonight, we didn't shoot very well. Probably the worst we've shot in the wild,” Pearl said. “I'm not worried about it. We're gonna shoot fine. Most of the shots that we got were good shots and the balls and things that are good that are gonna go in.”
Even with forcing 23 turnovers, the Auburn defense struggled at certain points throughout the nighr, making it a focal point moving forward.
“The defense is really challenged, disappointed about it and we’ve got to work on some things, because otherwise we are not going to get stops,” Pearl said.
Auburn will head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Tuesday to face off against Baylor in the opening game of the season. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. CT tip on ESPN and the Auburn Sports Network.