Chris Denson scores 29, but it's not enough for Auburn (Kyle Taylor photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy saw his Demons miss all 17 of their 3-point attempts in their first game.
Things turned around in their second game.
Northwestern State hit 14 3-pointers and rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to beat Auburn 111-94 in Auburn Arena on Friday night.
"I knew we weren't going 0-for-17 again," McConathy said. "The law of averages came in to play."
Auburn led 63-49 with 16:30 to play. "But at that point, instead of stepping on the gas and put them away, it was like we relaxed," said Auburn's Tony Barbee.
Barbee said he warned his team at the half to stay vigilant against the frantic-paced Demons.
"I told the team that because of their style of play, they're never out of it. I don't know if we took that for granted," he said.
"Our defense the last 16 minutes was non-existent, unacceptable," he said.
Auburn fell to 1-1 while Northwestern State, an NCAA Tournament team last season, improved to 2-0.
"Everybody is hurt right now, but we can't get down on ourselves," said Auburn guard Chris Denson, who scored a team-high 29 points.
The two teams combined to shoot 56 3-pointers, hitting 35 of them. Barbee said Auburn needed to stand taller against the onslaught.
"To have a team score 72 points in a half and score 111 in our building, after holding them to 34 percent in the first half, is unacceptable."
The game didn't begin that way. Denson scored 20 points in the first half on the way to a 48-39 halftime advantage. But Auburn's scoring slowed after the first few minutes of the second half and Northwestern State's took off.
"We've just got to learn to finish," said Denson.
Northwestern made 25 free throws to go along with those 14 3-pointers. But to McConathy, "the biggest difference in the game for us was we rebounded well in the second half."
Joining Denson in double-figure scoring were KT Harrell, with his second consecutive 21-point performance. Chris Griffin scored 13 and Allen Payne added 10.
Jalen West hit five 3-pointers and scored 30 to lead Northwestern State.
Auburn now turns to playing host to Jacksonville State next Tuesday.
"It's a long season. It's a learning experience," Barbee said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine