Dec. 30, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Somewhere in there, when the blocks were coming free and easy, Auburn's shortest starter swatted the ball away.
Point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen just had to get into the act.
"I've got to go back and watch that," said coach Tony Barbee. "When he gets a shot block, you know it's your night defensively."
It was Auburn's night defensively, and offensively, too, as the Tigers romped past Arkansas-Pine Bluff 91-59 Monday in Auburn Arena in the next-to-last tune-up before SEC play. The Tigers improved to 7-3 while traveling Pine Bluff, which has yet to play a home game, fell to 2-10.
It was a game to pad the stats, look at more playing combinations and gain confidence.
"The communication is unbelievable," Barbee said during his post-game radio interview. "That shows a trust they have in each other."
It was a clean line for most everybody. Shamsid-Deen had the block, but also scored nine points and, more importantly, had eight assists and no turnovers.
"It's big for your starting point guard, who is a freshman, not to have any," Barbee said.
Auburn's usual one-two punch led the scoring. KT Harrell had 19 points. Chris Denson had 17. But Dion Wade added 15 as Barbee looks for deep scoring down his roster. Ten Tigers scored. Reserves such as Matthew Atewe helped his cause "on the glass being aggressive," Barbee said.
Auburn led 53-25 at the half and took its biggest lead, a cushy 36, with 15:13 left in the game.
Auburn shot a blistering 65 percent from the field, including 53 percent from the beyond the 3-point line. Rebounds? Auburn dominated there, too, winning that stat 41-29. Blocks? Auburn had 12. Pine Bluff had two.
Auburn completes its pre-SEC schedule Saturday at home against Florida A&M. Barbee wouldn't mind a repeat of Monday's effort.
"Let's focus in on how hard we've got to play, how mean and nasty and tough and gritty we've got to play," Barbee said. "I think we saw some of that on the backboard."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine