Auburn defeated the Victory University Eagles 109-67 in the first of two exhibition games to kick off the 2013-14 season. Senior guard Chris Denson led the way with 21 points for the Tigers, who had five players score double-digits.
“I thought we played extremely hard, and I thought we looked like we are having a ton of fun out there playing together,” said head coach Tony Barbee after the game. “That’s what this team is about.”
Auburn kicked off last season with a 108-57 win against Victory, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Memphis-based school is coached by Scott Robinson, who was the head manager for the University of Memphis when Barbee was an assistant coach for current Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
The Eagles went 20-of-66 shooting on the evening and only scored 16 points in the paint. Victory sometimes played with five guards in the same rotation, and Barbee thought the Tigers could have done a better job defensively against the smaller Eagles.
“They have guys who can shoot it and spread you out and all five guys can drive,” Barbee said. “We aren’t going to see a lot of teams like that this year…defensively, we have got a ways to go.”
The Tigers raced out to an early lead thanks to the consistent shooting of Chris Denson. The senior guard was 5-for-6 from the field and pulled down five rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of the game.
Auburn’s aggressive defense held the visiting Eagles to 23 percent shooting in the first half, but the Tigers were whistled for 13 fouls.
Two of those early fouls were called on starting point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen. The freshman was held out for most of the first half after picking up fouls under the new hand-check rules.
“I was getting comfortable,” Shamsid-Deen said. “We can’t get aggressive with the new rules. I came back in the second half, and my teammates kept me in it. They really responded to me, and I depended on them.”
Auburn pulled away in the second half, and Shamsid-Deen took advantage of his opportunities, nailing three 3-point shots and a mid-range jumper.
Shamsid-Deen split time at point guard with fellow newcomer Malcolm Canada, a junior college transfer from Dallas. The two combined for 13 assists and just one turnover in the victory.
“Those two together, they play well off of each other,” Barbee said. “They both bring something different to the floor. You look at their assist-to-turnover numbers, that’s unbelievable. We will take that every night if we can get it.”
The Tigers return to action Friday night for their second exhibition, a matchup against Paine College. The game tips at 7 p.m. at the Auburn Arena.