A shutdown second half from Auburn led to a game-high 28-point lead against the Golden Eagles with six minutes left in the game. The Tigers held Tennessee Tech to a meager 37 percent from the field, and Auburn junior Chris Denson scored 18 points in his third game with the team this season.
Head coach Tony Barbee commented on Denson’s impact, “He plays with a swagger. He feels he is as good as anyone on the floor, and it’s contagious with the other guys.”
In his three games this season, Denson has averaged more than 16 PPG and continued to be a large impact on the team, helping it to its third win in a row.
“I feel we were rushing shots earlier (in the season),” Denson said. “I never sat out a full practice because coach wanted me fresh when I came back.”
The difference between the team’s consistency before and after Denson’s arrival is substantial and has shown on the final scoreboard during the past week.
Auburn’s defense held strong against TTU’s three-point game, allowing only one of 18 attempts. TTU has three players that shoot more than 40 percent from the three-point range, and the Tigers knew they had to stop it to win.
“We gambled a lot defending the three,” Denson said. “They got us jumping but we just really had to guard it.”
Freshman Jordan Price also had an impressive game, scoring 12 off the bench, including three straight three-pointers that brought him to 11 straight from behind the arc over the last three games, four shy of the NCAA record.
Price was issued a technical foul late in the first half and saw little playing time afterward.
“I got too excited,” he said. “They were talking some trash and I got involved. I shouldn’t have. I know that.”
Price is still seeing a relatively small amount of playing time after his impressive last three games.
“He made those buckets for us but I saw he had five or so 50-50 balls,” Barbee said. “It’s going to be a process. He has to mature his game.”
When asked about the technical foul, Barbee replied, “It was a teaching moment.”
The 19-point victory was the Tigers’ third straight win, giving them a 5–5 record on the season heading towards conference play. Following the game this Saturday, Dec. 22 against Winthrop, Auburn will have two tough match-ups against No. 10 ranked Illinois and ACC opponent Florida State.
“I knew this team would be better later than earlier,” Barbee said. “With Chris (Denson) absent, I knew we’d be inconsistent. I see this team advancing and making steps. That’s what we want to do is make steps.”