K.D. Johnson scored 16 points, Jaylin Williams and Chris Moore added 14 each and No.13 Auburn used a strong second half to pull away from visiting Texas Southern for a 72-56 victory.
On a rough shooting night from distance for both teams, Auburn came alive after a two-point lead at halftime to shoot 56 percent (14 of 25 after the break) and start the season with a fourth consecutive victory.
Joirdon Karl Nicholas had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Texas Southern (1-5), which was playing its fourth game in six days and was coming off an 83-48 defeat to No. 3 Houston on Wednesday. Davon Barnes added 12 points, while PJ Henry had 11.
Auburn was 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from long range, while Texas Southern was 1 of 11 (9.1 percent).
The game was tied 15-15 midway through the first half, with Auburn jumping out to a 22-17 lead with 6:47 to go before the break. But Texas Southern fought back to trail 29-27 at halftime after a dunk by Nicholas.
Texas Southern led 31-29 with a pair of baskets to start the second half before Auburn took charge. An 11-0 run, capped by four free throws from Johnson, gave Auburn a 40-31 advantage with 16:20 remaining.
Tempers flared with 15:05 remaining when Texas Southern’s Zytarious Mortle committed a flagrant foul on Johnson as he attempted a layup. Texas Southern still hung, around trailing 47-39 with 12:37 remaining before an 8-2 run by Auburn pushed the advantage to 55-41.
Another 11-0 run by Auburn built the lead to 71-50 with 3:49 remaining.
The rebounding battle was tight with Auburn holding a 37-34 advantage, but Auburn had 20 assists on 25 made field goals. Both teams struggled to take care of the ball with 20 turnovers each.
It was the 42nd consecutive nonconference home victory for Auburn, which received five points in 17 minutes from freshman Chance Westry in his second college game. Westry got off to a slow start after a right knee procedure.
–Field Level Media