AUBURN --- Senior Samir Doughty led Auburn with 20 points, freshman Isaac Okoro scored 12 points in his collegiate debut, and the new-look Tigers men’s basketball team topped Georgia Southern 83-74 on Tuesday night to open its season.
Seniors Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley added 13 points each, with Wiley nearing a double-double with nine rebounds.
Auburn went back and forth with the visiting contenders for the Sun Belt Conference before the Tigers pulled away late. Purifoy’s 3-pointer gave Auburn its new largest lead at 13 with just under 12 minutes to play, at 61-48.
Auburn led 41-37 at the half, charging back after trailing for much of the first half to a team picked by conference coaches as third-best in the Sun Belt.
Devan Cambridge hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Auburn in the final two minutes of the first half to flip a two-point deficit into a four-point advantage going into the break.
Cambridge is one of the team newcomers mixing with the Tigers’ five scholarship seniors to make up Auburn’s new-look rotation.
Auburn travels to play Davidson on Friday on CBS in Annapolis, Md. The Tigers will play at South Alabama next Tuesday before the team’s return to Auburn Arena on Nov. 15 to face Cal State Northridge.
After Auburn built a double-digit lead early in the second half, Georgia Southern cut that advantage to five at points down the stretch, before the Tigers put the game away in the final minutes.
It was a five-point game at 65-60 with just less than six minutes left when Auburn went on a 7-1 run in the ensuing sequence to make it 72-61 with 4:19 left.
Auburn played 10 players in significant minutes with Okoro starting on the wing alongside four seniors. Fellow freshmen Wes Flanigan and Tyrell Jones joined Cambridge and transfer Jamal Johnson to rotate in with Purifoy, Wiley, Doughty, Anfernee McLemore and J’Von McCormick.