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AUBURN — Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has said once his players start hitting shots, the team has a chance to be really good, and that was true tonight as the Auburn offense finally clicked on its way to a huge 89-65 win over Winthrop.
“With all the upsets in college basketball, particularly with some of the mid-major teams that can really shoot it, you've got to be ready,” said Pearl. “The only way that team was gonna beat us was from the 3, and we just didn't let them.”
The Eagles shot 29% from beyond the arc in the loss.
Auburn’s 50-point second half was bolstered by hot shooting from all over the floor. The Tigers shot 52.8% from the floor and 45.5% from beyond the arc in the second half, both season-bests for the team.
The second-half surge was bolstered by junior point guard Wendell Green Jr. and sophomore center John Broome, each scoring 10 points on very efficient shooting.
Overall, Green shot 60% on the way to 16 points, four rebounds and five assists. He has scored 16 or more in all three games this season.
“Wendell Green was the best player on the floor tonight, which was great to see,” Pearl said. “He just did whatever he wanted to do.”
The second-half surge was big for Auburn after a difficult first half that featured nine straight missed shots from the field by the young team. In the first half, shooting just 40.5% from the field and 33.3% from three, Auburn relied on its tenacious defense again, holding Winthrop to 26 points on 31% shooting. Auburn’s strong defensive half was bolstered by eight blocks, five from Broome, and three steals.
Though Winthrop was able to string a better half offensively in the final 20 minutes, they still were held to shooting 40.6% and fell in Neville Arena.
Winthrop’s one advantage was at the free throw line, a common theme for Auburn as the Eagles shot 65% from the charity stripe while the Tigers shot 60%.
Freshman guard Chance Westry’s return meant that Auburn was close to full strength tonight, and while it may be some time before Westry is back to 100%, he still made an impact as one of the two impact freshmen on the team. In limited action, 17 minutes, Westry scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field.
With Westry back in the lineup, Auburn’s rotation goes 11-deep, and the Tigers even played 12 tonight.
“It's just everyone knowing their role. Having 11 guys like that is pretty deep. We can get in and get out,” said Westry. “No one is saving their energy for later in the game. Guys are playing their hardest.”
Auburn’s roster continues to get healthier and gel, with Broome performing his best since joining the orange-and-blue. Along with his five blocks, he led the team with 18 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
The transfer from Murray State has been battling an ankle injury, but he remains confident in what this team can do going forward.
“If we play our game, nobody can beat us,” said Broome during the post-game interview on the SEC Network.
No. 13 Auburn continues its home stand with a Friday night matchup against Texas Southern (1-2). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST on ESPN+.
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