It took Auburn a bit longer than it expected, but the Tigers found their groove early in the second half and rode a 24-2 run en route to a 98-77 victory over Cornell.
“We played well,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “The most important thing is that we got back from the break, we took our opponent seriously and we took care of business. Cornell is a really good offensive team. They’ll be really competitive in the Ivy League. We obviously out-manned them, and now we head into SEC play 12-1.”
Auburn shot 50.7 percent (35-of-69) from the floor on its way to its 10th straight win. The Tigers out-rebounded the overmatched Big Red 47-30.
The Tigers finished with five players in double figures, with Bryce Brown leading the way with 19 points. Mustapha Heron scored 17 points, while Jared Harper and Horace Spencer finished with 12 points apiece. Harper also finished with a game-high seven assists.
“I feel like today we took that extra step, crossed that line, hit each other a little more,” Brown said about Auburn’s 20 assists. “I felt like we shared the ball probably better than we have all season and today showed it.”
Chuma Okeke recorded the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Auburn led by as many as 39 points in the second half. Cornell ended the game on a 15-1 run to close the gap.
Cornell (5-7) was led by Matt Morgan, who scored 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Jake Kuhn scored 16 points off the bench for the Big Red.
Auburn improved to 12-1 on the season as it turns its attention to the SEC opener on Tuesday night at No. 19 Tennessee. Auburn is off to its best start since 1999-2000 when it started 16-1.
“The league is the best it’s been and the deepest it’s been,” Pearl said. “It’s going to be a grind night in and night out. Physically, it’s going to be a challenge, but I think we are also prepared.
“I think we’re confident, but I think it’s a new season and a new year so the games are going to be a lot closer. If we can continue to make sure that rebounding travels, shooting travels and defense travels are our focus and we can continue to stay healthy, we’ll continue to be competitive.”