Todd Van Emst
Auburn pulled away in the second half to take a big win over Grambling State.
Four Auburn players scored in double-figures, and the Tigers ended a four-game losing streak with a 92-42 win over Grambling State at Auburn Arena Tuesday night.
For Auburn (3-5) it was the first victory since defeating College of Charleston at the Charleston Classic on Nov. 16, and it was the first home win since topping IPFW in the season opener on Nov. 9. Grambling (0-7) was held to a season-low in points and suffered its worst margin of defeat of the year.
Noel Johnson and Jordan Price led Auburn in scoring, tallying 14 points apiece. Johnson added four rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist, and Price was 4 of 4 from behind the three-point line. Price was recruited as a lethal shooter, and after struggling through his first seven games -- 31.7 percent shooting, 8 of 23 from three -- his performance against Grambling was much needed. Price did score 19 points and knock down 5 of 8 threes against Rhode Island, only to follow that with a 1 of 7 game against DePaul, so the key for the shooting guard is to stay hot.
Auburn was playing its first game since the dismissal of forward Shareif Adamu. Perhaps the best news for the Tigers Tuesday night was the return of Chris Denson. Denson, who often came off the bench last season to provide an offensive spark, played his first game of the year since becoming academically eligible. He didn't show any signs of rust, finishing with 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting in 20 minutes. Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb each added 10 points for the Tigers.
The Auburn defense was stout, holding Grambling to 31.4 percent shooting and 4 of 18 from behind the arc. Derron Hobbs led Grambling with 11 points, two assists and two steals, and Peter Roberson hauled in 10 rebounds.
Not a lot can be taken away from Auburn's win, as Grambling entered the game slotted as one of the worst teams in the country. According to Real Time RPI, the other Tigers are ranked No. 313, and Ken Pomeroy has Grambling ranked dead last at No. 347. In all honesty, there are probably a few high school teams out there that would give Auburn a tougher challenge.
Still, after losing four in a row, a win is a win. And a 50-point victory, no matter the opponent, is always a welcome sight. The Tigers didn't take their inferior opponent lightly and shot 54 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from three, and no player in orange and blue compiled more than three fouls. Maybe the most impressive feat was the 65 second-half points the Tigers scored. All in all, Tuesday night's game was easily Auburn's best showing this season.
Next up for the Tigers is a home date against Furman at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be heard on the Auburn Sports Network and streamed live on AuburnTigers.com.