The challenges keep coming for No. 13 Auburn, which has approached the midway point of a run that has it playing five games in 12 days in multiple countries.
The Tigers (3-0) now face Texas Southern (1-4) on Friday after starting the whirlwind portion of their schedule with a 67-59 victory over South Florida on Friday and an 89-65 victory over Winthrop on Tuesday. After Friday’s game, Auburn heads south of the border next week for a pair of games in the Cancun Challenge.
Auburn earned its 41st consecutive nonconference home victory when it dispatched Winthrop behind 18 points and 13 rebounds from Johni Broome and 16 points from Wendell Green Jr.
The Tigers used 12 players in the victory, with 11 of them playing at least 12 minutes. Nine players scored at least five points.
“Shows you our depth and our balance,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Guys don’t have to take possessions off. That’s our strength. The depth is a great factor. It makes for a great locker room. Our key is when they’re out there to be productive.”
Auburn even received 16 minutes and five points Tuesday from freshman point guard Chance Westry, who was making his college debut after undergoing a recent knee procedure.
“It felt great,” Westry said. “I was waiting to play in a game and compete with my brothers, doing what my team needs, being off the ball and being on the ball.”
Auburn has played well even after the departure of first-round draft picks Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler from last season’s roster. Broome, a transfer from Morehead State, has helped with the transition into the program’s new era.
Broome, the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year a season ago, has averaged 11.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Green leads Auburn with 17.3 points.
Broome has also proven himself on defense so far with nine blocked shots, while Dylan Cardwell has 14. The duo combined for nine blocks against Winthrop.
Texas Southern is coming off an 83-48 defeat against No. 3 Houston on Wednesday. Freshman Zytario Mortle had 15 points, while Davon Barnes and PJ Henry each had nine. Henry leads the Tigers from the point-guard spot with 15.8 points per game.
Starting forward Grayson Carter sustained a left leg injury with 13:40 remaining after he slipped on the court, but he returned to the game.
The Tigers know all about a challenging schedule having faced Texas Tech and Arizona State before the visit to Houston. They are in the midst of five games in seven days, including back-to-back contests this week when they lost to Oral Roberts 82-64 on Tuesday before Wednesday’s game against Houston. A date with Kansas looms Nov. 28.
“Our guys haven’t had a long time in terms of getting their feet wet,” Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones said of the tough early-season schedule. “We have to jump into the fire and really be playing.”
Texas Southern’s lone victory came Sunday when it upended Arizona State 67-66 at home.
–Field Level Media