By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Tony Barbee stressed defense in practice the last few days, and his Tigers took it to heart when they hit the court Tuesday night.
Auburn turned in a bounce-back performance in beating Jacksonville State 78-54 in Auburn Arena, a game after the Tigers allowed 111 points in a loss to Northwestern State.
"We showed flashes of the type of team we can be when we're locked in on the defensive end of the floor," Barbee said.
Auburn set the defensive tone early, jumping to a 33-19 advantage. But that was really just more of the same defense Barbee wanted in practice.
"That's all we did the last two days, and it showed," Barbee said.
Auburn improved to 2-1. Jacksonville State fell to 0-5.
The Tigers held Jacksonville State to 34.6 percent from the floor, out-rebounded the Gamecocks 47-33 and got 32 points from their bench players.
It was all better than the 111-92 loss to Northwestern State.
"We talked about letting that go," Barbee said. "Every game is a learning experience. But we want to learn from wins. We don't want to learn from losses. But if it took that for us to learn the importance of defense, then we'll move forward from here."
Auburn forward Chris Denson, who came in leading the SEC in the early going, scored a game-high 15 points. KT Harrell scored 14. Malcolm Canada added 10. Jacksonville State was led by D.J. Felder, who scored 16.
"It was a lot better than the last game," Harrell said. "I think we scrambled, we communicated at a high level and that's what we were working on in practice. We definitely took a step forward, but we still need to get a lot better."
But still better than Jacksonville State.
"We were physically bad. We were mentally bad. We had no energy," said Jacksonville State coach James Green.
Auburn returns to action against Murray State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Auburn Arena.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine