Auburn struggles early, tops Georgia Southwestern in final exhibition game, 66-50

Auburn's Asauhn Dixon-Tatum Georgia Southern State University vs Auburn on Monday, Nov.5, 2012 in Auburn, Ala - Todd Van Emst

The Tigers were in a much closer game than expected for most of the night.

Auburn defeated Georgia Southwestern, 66-50, on Monday night to wrap up exhibition play. Head coach Tony Barbee opened the game with Frankie Sullivan, Josh Wallace, Allen Payne, Rob Chubb and Noel Johnson (over Shareif Adamu) starting. Following a strong offensive showing against an undersized Victory, the Tigers got off to a slow start in their second exhibition game. Auburn shot 35.7 percent from the field in the first half and went into halftime with a meager three-point lead.

Johnson was easily Auburn's best player against the 'Canes. He put up a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Johnson was 4 of 7 from the floor and hit 2 of 4 3-point attempts. He added a steal and an assist, and the only flaw in his was turning the ball over three times.

When Chubb has a good night, he has a really good night, but when Chubb has a rough night, he has a really rough night. He scored only two points and found himself in foul trouble. This gave JUCO transfer Asauhn Dixon-Tatum an opportunity, and he made the most of it. Dixon-Tatum scored 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting, and he had four rebounds and four blocked shots. Give him a little more time with the playbook and it will be intriguing to see how much playing time he can garner on his own merits.

Chubb may have not had the best of nights, but the remaining veterans managed to settle in and put up numbers. Sullivan had nine points, including a nice two-handed jam after a fast break in the second half. Wallace had eight points, including an uncontested 3. Payne scored seven points, including back-to-back 3s, and he had two blocks.

Shaquille Johnson scored four points and pulled down four rebounds, Jordon Granger had four points and a rebound, and Brian Greene Jr. collected two points and two assists.

Two key issues should be pondered as Auburn enters the regular season: development of Adamu and the contrast of the upperclassmen against the younger guys. Adamu is a very physical player, but often, he can't control himself, as evidenced by his eight fouls in two preseason games. However, there are times when his physicality works to his benefit. At one point Monday night, he was able to make a shot while covered by three defenders. If Adamu can learn to use his physical play to his advantage and stay out of foul trouble, his game will see drastic improvement.

Barbee has stated that he expects the starting lineup to be fluid throughout the season, but one has to wonder how the gap between the defensive prowess of the veterans and the offensive spark of the newcomers can be bridged into generating faster starts out of the gate. Until Auburn figures this out, the Tigers will have some troubles.

Click here for box score and here for post-game quotes.

Auburn tips off the regular-season at home at Auburn Arena on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. CT against IPFW.

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