Nov. 11, 2011
AUBURN -- Rob Chubb totaled a career-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and had seven rebounds to lead Auburn to an 84-62 win over McNeese State in the season opener for both teams at Auburn Arena on Friday. Varez Ward added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, Kenny Gabriel 13 points and seven boards and Chris Denson 10 points.
Auburn scored the first 11 points of the game and held McNeese State scoreless for five minutes and never trailed the rest of the way.
"Chubb's been working on it," head coach Tony Barbee said. "We all saw glimpses last year, but he was almost like a freshman last year. Physically, he's worked on his body, become strong, so now he is able to finish some of those shots even against a big body like the Turner kid. He was good tonight."
The 22-point win marks the largest margin of victory for Auburn (1-0) over a Division I opponent in two seasons. The Tigers shot 58.8 percent (33-of-62) from the floor to set a new high for the team in the 2-year-old Auburn Arena.
Auburn's full-court press led to four McNeese State turnovers in the first five minutes of the game as the Tigers opened up their lead. The Cowboys scored their first points with a put-back by Rudy Turner.
"The defense definitely set up our offense," said Ward, who celebrated his 23rd birthday. "They were missing a lot of shots, and they got us into our transition game."
The Tigers forced McNeese State into 17 turnovers and turned those into 22 points.
McNeese State closed to within 31-25 with just over five minutes left in the half, but Auburn closed the half on a 15-6 run as Chubb's lay-up with 39 seconds left pushed Auburn's lead to 15. McNeese State kept itself in the game on the back of some solid shooting at the foul line. The Cowboys made all 1 of its free throw attempts in the first half and trailed Auburn 46-31 at the break.
The Tigers opened the second half with an 8-0 run to widen their lead out to 23. After a jumper by Chubb, Auburn held a commanding 54-31 advantage with 17:51 to go. Kenny Gabriel and Chubb combined to score the Tigers' first four baskets of the second half.
"I always talk about the first five minutes of that second half being the most important five minutes of the game," Barbee said. "You either let them back into the game or you give them no hope, and we didn't give them any hope."
McNeese State (0-1) missed its first free throw with 10:37 left in the second half after making 15 straight while finishing the game 21-of-27. Denson's free throw with 12:21 left in the game gave Auburn its largest lead of 29 points, 62-33.
With three minutes to go and the Tigers leading 80-56, Barbee emptied the bench.
The Tigers outrebounded the Cowboys 40-28 and outscored them 46-24 in the paint. Auburn limited McNeese State to 35.8 shooting from the field and only 3-of-18 (.167) from 3-point range. The Tigers shot 6-of-18 (.333) from behind the arc but were only 12-of-23 (.522) from the foul line.
Patrick Richard, the Southland Conference's leading scorer last season, was held to a team-high 13 points on only 3-of-13 shooting from the field.
Auburn returns to action against Kennesaw State on Monday at 7 pm Central in Auburn Arena.