By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Chris Denson was making his favorite basketball move, the Euro step, when his knee buckled and he feel to the floor.
"It kind of scared me. It just hurt those couple of seconds. I just walked it off."
He also sat for awhile in the first half, but he came back to score 19 of his 23 points in the second half to lead Auburn past Murray State 75-67 Saturday night in Auburn Arena. Auburn improved to 3-1. Murray State fell to 2-3.
Denson, the scorer, also added five rebounds and played defense, something coach Tony Barbee has demanded.
"He's matured in a lot of areas, away from this game, away from this court. I'm a believer that how you live your life away from the court directly translates to how you perform on the court," Barbee said. "He's matured in his approach to it. He's really locked in on the defensive end of the floor now and he's not thinking offense. When you are not thinking about offense, it's amazing how it comes even easier to you."
Denson, the senior, is getting it.
"I always tell guys, 'don't want until it's too late,'" Barbee said.
It took awhile for Denson to get the defensive thing.
"It's bad it took me so long to realize this," Denson said.
But Denson remains a scorer, as his second half proved.
"He's one of the most dangerous guys attacking the rim that I've seen," Barbee said.
"I've just got the mindset that no one could stop me on the court," Denson said.
Auburn led 32-28 at halftime. Murray State hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 37-36 lead early in the second half, but a Denson basket quickly put the Tigers ahead again. Murray State didn't lead again.
"I proud of the fact we were able to sustain the runs that they made," Barbee said.
"We've got chemistry," Denson said, "and if we didn't have team chemistry we wouldn't have made the clutch stops we needed."
Auburn out-rebounded the Racers 41-31, had four double-figure scorers and had 11 assists.
"It's got to be a pack mentality," Barbee said.
KT Harrell also had a solid game with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 11 points and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum with 10 points.
Jeffrey Moss and Cameron Payne each scored 16 for the Racers.
Auburn is set to play its fifth straight game in Auburn Arena when it plays host to Tennessee State at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine