By Ken Cross
Defense travels and in this case, it was a welcomed sight for Coach Bruce Pearl. The Tigers’ freshman of a year ago had all of the offensive skills you could throw on the table, so in the off-season, the emphasis was on all aspects on the defensive end of the floor.
That emphasis came together in the young season’s game two, as Auburn silenced Indiana State, 83-64 with suffocating on-ball defense on the perimeter and a shot blocking acumen in the post led by Horace Spencer.
The Tigers forced 21 turnovers an scored 25 points off all of those as well as holding the Sycamores to 32 percent from he floor and allowing only six made threes. The effort is even more impressive in that Indiana State made 17-of-26 triples and shot 59.2 percent in ruling to a 90-69 opening win over Indiana last Friday night.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) November 16, 2017
“I thought the kids executed extremely well,” noted Pearl, who was especially proud of Bryce Brown’s play on ISU’s Brenton Scott who scored only three points, “We’ve been working on our defense, rebounding and our transition defense, and that’s probably the best defense we’ve played against a good team.”
Auburn got off to a quick start offensively as the Tigers jumped not he Sycamores with a 13-4 lead and pushed it to 48-27 at halftime.
Desean Murray had 14 points and 12 rebounds to pace Auburn as Bryce Brown led the Tigers’ attack with 15. The Tigers scored 15 points off the offensive glass as well. Spencer added to that attack with nine boards.
Freshman Chuma Okeke made his presence felt with 11 points, six boards and three steals in 19 minutes.
Auburn plays Temple in tomorrow’s semifinals, slated for 11 a.m.