Purifoy scores 17 in 2nd half, Auburn beats Georgia State
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Danjel Purifoy and Jared Harper each scored 19 points, Horace Spencer added 12 points and Auburn topped Georgia State 83-65 on Monday night in the opening round of the Cancun Challenge.
Auburn (2-0) pulled away in the second half as its shooting, which had been an issue in the first 20 minutes, picked up. They shot 56 percent in the second half to put away the Panthers, who were undone by a combination of turnovers and cold shooting.
''I thought we were very stagnant in the first half, much better in the second half,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''It's probably one of the better second-half defenses we've had. The defense was really good away from us tonight.''
Georgia State finished with 18 turnovers, which Auburn turned into 16 points.
Purifoy was plagued with foul trouble early, and had to come out just three minutes into the game, and he didn't return for the rest of the half. But he scored 17 points in the second half to help propel the Tigers to a second consecutive win.
The first half was tightly contested. Each team had trouble holding onto the ball, turning it over a combined 23 times – 15 of which the Panthers were responsible for. Then, Harper canned two 3-pointers in the final two minutes to give Auburn a five-point lead at the break. It sparked the Tigers' offense, and that carried over into the final frame.
''Every time they needed a play, they went to the point guard,'' said Georgia State coach Ron Hunter. ''I thought he was really, really special. He really set the tone for their team, you know, makes those other guys better.''
Jeremy Hollowell led Georgia State (1-1) with 20 points and four rebounds. Justin Seymour added 18 points and six rebounds for the Panthers.
Georgia State: The Panthers dropped their first game of the season, but they'll continue the Cancun Challenge with a chance to rebound.
Auburn: Bruce Pearl's squad keeps the undefeated start to the season rolling as his young team gains some much-needed experience.
HE SAID IT
''He was just all teeth. You couldn't get him to stop smiling, and that's something good to see because we got that win for him. He really wanted this win.'' – Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy on center LaRon Smith, who played at Georgia State from 2012-14.
With Auburn holding onto an 11-point lead and under four minutes remaining, guard T.J. Dunans picked off an errant pass and took it the length of the floor. He whipped a behind-the-back pass to a trailing Horace Spencer, who thundered home a monstrous two-handed dunk that sent Auburn Arena into a frenzy.
Georgia State travels to Purdue on Thursday to take on another Power 5 opponent.
Auburn looks to start 3-0 this season when the Tigers host Eastern Kentucky on Thursday.