Auburn bounced back on the second day of the Charleston Classic, as the Tigers held on for a 55-51 win over the College of Charleston Cougars Friday night at TD Arena.
After suffering an arm laceration against Murray State and receiving 25 stitches Thursday, Frankie Sullivan struggled in the first half. But the senior took over in the final 20 minutes and totaled 24 points, five rebounds two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. Auburn (2-1) trailed, 23-22, at halftime against the Cougars, and just as he did in the season-opening victory over IPFW, Sullivan came out of the locker room like a man determined to get the Tigers a victory. Sullivan scored just seven points in the loss to Murray State, and it is clear that as he goes, so goes the Auburn offense.
Noel Johnson had a fine shooting night, as he connected on 4 of 7 shots, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc, to finish with 12 points. Junior Shareif Adamu had perhaps the most encouraging night for Auburn. The Tigers' new faces have struggled in the early going this season, but Adamu scored 11 points on 3 of 5 shooting and 4 of 6 from the foul line, and he compiled three rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He played tenacious defense and showed a couple flashes of brilliance on the offensive end. If Friday night was any indication, Adamu should be a key contributor for Auburn later in the season.
Only one player reached double-figures in scoring for Charleston (1-2). Anthony Stitt scored 11 points on 3 of 9 shooting, and he pulled down five rebounds. However, Stitt's six turnovers pretty much nullified his offensive contributions. Adjehi Baru grabbed 11 boards for the Cougars, and he provided five points and two blocks.
It certainly wasn't a pretty performance from the Tigers, but it was a win nonetheless. Auburn shot just 36.5 percent from the floor, but intense defense held Charleston to 39.1 percent shooting. In a close game, the final result often comes down to which team can make its free throws, and that team was Auburn Friday night. After connecting on an abysmal 56.7 percent of their foul shots against Murray State, the Tigers were 11 of 14, 78.6 percent, against Charleston. The Cougars hit just 10 of 18, 55.6 percent. And after turning it over 20 times against the Racers, Auburn had nine giveaways against the Cougars. All in all, the Tigers were much more fundamentally sound on Friday, and that resulted in a victory.
Auburn plays its third game of the Charleston Classic Sunday at 1 p.m. CT against Dayton. With a win, the Tigers will leave the Holy City with a 3-1 record and a little bit of confidence. Considering the disaster on Thursday, that would be a pleasant surprise.