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Tiger Trio: 3 takeaways from Auburn basketball - 'Midtown' Brown, debuts, blocks
Bryce Brown scored a career-high 31 in Auburn's season-opening win, making all 8 of his 2-point shots. Photo: Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics
Nov. 11, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - Challenge accepted. Auburn’s basketball coaches asked Bryce Brown to expand his offensive role beyond his sharp-shooting 3-point skills.

Brown responded with 31 points Friday in Auburn’s season-opening 102-74 win over Norfolk State at Auburn Arena, including 8-for-8 on shots inside the arc.

“I think Bryce would tell you that I’ve sort of pigeonholed him as a shooter, and he really almost gets more joy from the game when he’s doing other things,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “He’s strong. He’s athletic. He was able to score through contact at the rim, which is really good to see. That really bodes well for us.”

“I’ve been challenged by the coaches,” said Brown, who scored 18 points in the first 10 minutes. “Trying to do a little bit more than just standing on the perimeter and being one-dimensional. They couldn’t stop me from getting to the rack so I decided to proceed with that.”

Meet Mr. Murray

Desean Murray led four Tigers making their Auburn debuts by scoring 13 points and sharing the team lead with 7 rebounds.

“I was a lot more relaxed tonight,” said Murray, referencing the nerves he felt during Auburn’s exhibition game. “Tonight I told myself, ‘I’m going to just relax and I’m just going to play my game and I’m going to let the game come to me, and I’m going to help my team.’”

At 6-foot-3, Murray, who sat out last season after transferring from Presbyterian, will be one of the SEC’s smaller forwards.

“He’s the toughest in this league,” said Brown, answering a question addressed to Murray. “He’s the toughest 6-3 power forward.”



“I’m going to play really hard,” Murray said. “I feel physical down there. I feel I can guard anybody down there and anybody around the perimeter.”

“For those of you who hadn’t seen him play well yet, I thought he played very well,” Pearl said. “He does a lot of things that help us at both ends of the floor. I thought that gave our guys some confidence.”

True freshmen Davion Mitchell (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Chuma Okeke (5 points, 5 rebounds) played in their first college games. Junior college transfer Malik Dunbar scored 7 points.

“The freshmen played great. Malik played great,” Murray said. “We’ve got a lot of room to improve and a lot of room to get better.”

Block Party

Auburn blocked 9 shots, with Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer combining for 7 swats.

“Horace and Anfernee got a bunch of blocks and changed a bunch of shots,” Pearl said.

McLemore scored 10 points, adding 7 rebounds and 4 blocks, with a tone-setting trio coming in the opening minutes. Spencer added 3 blocks, 4 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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