Auburn uses second half to beat Georgia Southern 92-62
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) On the night it debuted the orange jerseys, Auburn used red-hot shooting in the second half Friday to top Georgia Southern, 92-62, behind the first double-double of the season for Cinmeon Bowers.
Bowers, who led the SEC in double-doubles in 2014-15, struggled early in the year. But against Georgia Southern, Bowers poured in 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Tigers overcame a sloppy first half to ground the Eagles in the second half.
''It was good to get our double-double guy back with Cinmeon playing very effectively, and we did what we were supposed to do,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Auburn has held a double-digit lead in the first half in each of its first three games, and like the previous two, the Tigers let it slip away.
Georgia Southern clawed back to within 1 point at halftime, and took the lead two minutes into the second half.
''I am very disappointed in the first half passing,'' Pearl said. ''There were way too many turnovers, too sloppy. They played some interesting switching defenses, some things that disrupted us. I thought they were really careless with the basketball at times. We turned it over inside too much.''
But from that point on Auburn controlled the game, as it outscored the Eagles 55-26 in the second half.
The Tigers used a 29-8 run - including a 7-0 run solely by Tyler Harris - to create an insurmountable lead.
Harris ended the day with 9 points and seven rebounds, and T.J. Dunans added 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting to inflate Auburn's lead.
''He is a stat sheet stuffer, five assists, one turnover, three blocks, and two steals,'' Pearl said. ''He is very engaged defensively.''
The Tigers shot 49 percent from the field - and 58 percent in the second half - compared to Georgia Southern's 31 percent.
Mike Hughes led the Eagles with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Ike Smith added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Kareem Canty, who came into the game averaging 22 points per game - second in the SEC behind Mississippi State's Stefan Moody - let his average dip with a 4-of-12 shooting night, good for 14 points.
And Auburn's free-throw shooting, which has routinely been the Tigers' Achilles heel, was a strength Friday night as they converted on 25 of 33 from the line.
In the first half, the Eagles took advantage of a cursory Auburn passing game to force 10 turnovers and collect seven steals, but the tables turned once the teams went to the locker room.
Georgia Southern finished with 18 turnovers to Auburn's 14, as the Tigers used their full-court press to force the Eagles into pressured passes and poor shots.
Tahj Shamsid-Deen scored in 8 points in his second game back from a shoulder injury.
Freshman Bryce Brown added 11 points for Auburn in only six minutes of playing time, as he connected on three of four shots from the 3-point line.
''Bryce is a sniper for us,'' Bowers said. ''Coach Pearl is trying to help him improve on defense and know the plays. When he does that, he will be on the court a lot more.''
Auburn as a whole shot 38 percent from beyond the arc compared to Georgia Southern's 23 percent.
Georgia Southern: After not facing an SEC opponent for four years, Georgia Southern has now faced two in a row. The Eagles lost to 82-72 to Ole Miss on Monday.
Auburn: The Tigers are now 7-0 against Georgia Southern all-time, and 6-0 at home. The two teams' last meeting was Dec. 30, 2011, when Auburn won 78-75.
Auburn is 9-6 when Bowers has a double-double, dating back to his last one in February against Ole Miss.
Auburn will host Northwestern State on Nov. 27.
Georgia Southern returns home to face The Citadel on Wednesday.