The Tigers made ten shots from behind the arc, shooting 40 percent in a 73-60 win at Dayton Wednesday night.
Mustapha Heron stayed hot, leading Auburn in scoring with 21 points. Despite a slow start to the season, Heron has silenced his critics scoring 22, 31, and now 23, in three consecutive games. The sophomore finished 7-of-13 from the field, and grabbed seven rebounds.
Heron took over in the second half, making tough shots, getting to the foul line, and beating Dayton’s defense off the dribble time after time with ease.
"He cut right through those guys," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said.
Along with hot shooting, Pearl’s squad managed to put in their best defensive performance of the year, holding the Flyers to 36 percent shooting.
“It was a great win in a tremendous environment,” Pearl said. “I told the team that these Dayton basketball fans are smart basketball fans – some have been here a long, long time – and they saw a really good Auburn team that played really hard, changed defenses and kept [the Flyers] off-balance.”
Auburn opened the game with an 11-2 run and Dayton responded with a 13-point run but the Tigers closed the first half with 13 points from freshman Chuma Okeke, who had six rebounds in the first half, and eight from sophomore Anfernee McLemore to take a 35-24 lead at the break.
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In the second half, Auburn capitalized on Dayton’s sloppy play down the stretch, scoring 15 points off of 19 turnovers.
The Tigers outrebounded the Flyers 38-32, their sixth-straight game with an advantage on the glass, and only turned the ball over 11 times.
"Offensively, we spurted and sputtered a little bit. But, geez, overall it was a good effort," Pearl said afterward. "We definitely controlled the tempo. We controlled the game."
Auburn had five different players score in double-figures. Along with Heron, Okeke scored a career-high 15 points and McLemore added his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper rounded out the group, both tallying 11 points.
The Tigers shot 79 percent from the free-throw line, going 19-of-24, to help put the game away after a late Dayton run cut the lead to eight points with just under two minutes left.
Darrell Davis led the Flyers with 18 points on 4-of-13 shooting, and added six rebounds, and four assists.
Auburn improves to 5-1 on the year, while Dayton falls to 3-3. The Tigers return to action Sunday afternoon vs. George Mason in Auburn Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. CT.
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