Auburn got off to a slow start, shooting 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) from the floor in the first half.
Georgia Southwestern led for most of the first half, but Auburn rallied and led at halftime 32–29.
After the game, head coach Tony Barbee said he was relieved the game ended in a victory, albeit an unimpressive one.
“I said it to the staff the whole game, I’m glad this wasn’t a 50-point blowout,” Barbee said. “That wouldn’t have done us any good.”
Auburn turned it around in the second half, shooting 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the floor and holding Georgia Southwestern to 21 points in the final 20 minutes to escape with the win.
Despite the comeback, Barbee admitted after the game an exhibition loss wouldn’t have been bad for his team after the shaky performance.
“I was over on the bench saying I hope we lose and we can learn from it,” Barbee said. “Every night out we want to make the other team match our intensity and how hard we play, and that wasn’t the case for the second straight game.
We started better against Victory, but tonight against a little bit higher-level opponent.
“They were working at about 1,000 miles per hour; we were going at about 200. It’s got to be the other way around.”
Auburn eventually picked up the pace and settled down on defense, according to Barbee, and those adjustments were crucial to the Tigers securing a victory in their last preseason game before the regular season.
“I thought once we got into our pace of how hard we play, we made some things hard on them,” Barbee said. “I thought our zone looked good. It’s kind of what got them a little stymied, because man-to-man we couldn’t guard them.”
Noel Johnson said his focus Monday night was to show the coaches he’s an all-around player.
“I think a big part of my game is rebounding, and scoring, too,” Johnson said after he finished the game with a double-double. “So I’m just trying to show my full game this whole season coming up. When asked about Johnson, Barbee said his efforts on defense and on the glass will earn him time on the court.
“He’s got to be a guy that makes shots,” Barbee said. “He’s got to be smart with the ball, but if he’ll defend and rebound, he’ll be in that rotation getting a lot of minutes.”
Derrick Dawkins led the charge for Georgia Southwestern, finishing with nine points and five assists in 32 minutes of action.
“They were tough to guard off the bounce, especially the little kid Dawkins,” Barbee said. “He was pretty good. He was a quick little joker. He was good with the ball, and he could score.”
Senior guard Josh Wallace scored eight points and dished out a team-high five assists.
Junior forward Allen Payne and freshman guard Jordan Price each scored seven points.