Auburn's Danjel Purifoy scored plenty in the second half, and played defense on Isaish Dennis, too
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Neither foul trouble nor Georgia State could stop Danjel Purifoy from his appointed rounds of winning one for a teammate Monday night.
The Auburn forward, who played all of three minutes in the first half, caught fire down the stretch and scored 19 points to help Auburn beat Georgia State 83-65, winning the game, he said, for teammate LaRon Smith, who began his career with the Panthers.
"I told him we were going to come out and get this win for him," Purifoy said. "In the second half, that's what I came out with. That was on my mind the whole time, just playing for LaRon."
Purifoy didn't play much in the first half and scored only two points. He made up for it in the second half. He and Jared Harper each finished with 19 points to lead a balanced Auburn offense. Ten Tigers scored.
It's the first time Auburn has been 2-0 since the 2011-12 season.
Purifoy confirmed Smith was pleased with the results.
"You couldn't get him to stop smiling, and that's something good to see because we got that win for him. He really wanted this win," Purifoy said.
All the fancy 3-point shooting Auburn used to win its season-opener took a backseat to good, old-fashioned balanced scoring in the second game of the season.
Auburn made seven 3-pointers and went inside for five dunks.
"Even though we play fast, we're a fairly complex system," said coach Bruce Pearl. "I've thrown a ton at this team really, really early. I thought we had great effort and energy."
Horace Spencer added 12 points and Mustapha Heron scored 10 and had a team-best eight rebounds. T.J. Dunans and Anfernee McLemore had five rebounds each and, in the theme of a balanced stat sheet, four more Tigers had four rebounds each. Smith scored two points, had a rebound and three blocks.
Auburn started slowly, trailing Georgia State until Bryce Brown hit a 3-pointer with 11:13 left in the first half for an 18-15 lead. The Tigers used balanced scoring -- nine Tigers scored in the first 16 minutes -- but Georgia State didn't go away.
It was Auburn 35, Georgia State 30 at halftime. Harper said the game turned in the second half when Auburn "just locked in defensively. Maybe in the first half, we had a lot of turnovers that led to easy baskets. In the half-court, our defense was good. But we controlled our turnovers more, and we made it easier for us to be able to defend."
The Tigers stretched it to 47-37 with 14:29 left in the second half as Auburn got hot and Georgia State ran head first into foul trouble.
It was a different kind of game than the opener, when Auburn led North Florida by 30 after 25 minutes on the way to 13 3-pointers. The Tigers didn't rely as heavily on the 3, but still separated themselves from Georgia State in the second half.
Auburn will return to action against Eastern Kentucky at 8 p.m. Thursday in Auburn Arena.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine