Auburn Basketball: Tigers look for first 2-0 start in five years

Chris Denson scored 10 as Auburn scored 84 points against McNeese St.

Auburn put in its best offensive performance under Tony Barbee in its season opener against McNeese State on Friday night, shooting 53.2 percent from the field and scoring 80 points in regulation for the first time in the second-year coach’s tenure.

It was an encouraging sign for a team that struggled mightily on offense last year.

But Barbee’s not about to dwell on the Tigers’ success.

And his players better not, either, not with another game looming Monday.

“It will give us a true test of how they would carry over emotions whether a there is a lot on the positive end or a lot of minuses on the negative end,” Barbee said. “There will be pluses and minuses from both areas of the game, and we want to see how they will be able to put that behind them and go into a fresh start.”

The fresh start for Auburn (1-0) comes against Kennesaw State (0-1), a team that lost its season opener 85-31 to No. 14 Wisconsin.

The Owls, who finished 8-23 last year, were down 41-8 at the half and managed only 23.3 percent from the field against the Badgers.

Guard Markeith Cummings, a Birmingham native who led the Atlantic Sun in scoring last year, netted 18 points against Wisconsin, making up for more than half of his team’s scoring.

But Barbee doesn’t want his team taking it easy.

“They are smaller at the guard, but are very quick and are really always on the attack,” Barbee said. “They are playing in a very good conference and a competitive league.”

Kennesaw State (0-1) at Auburn (1-0)
WHERE: Auburn Arena
WHEN: 7 p.m.
RADIO/TV: WKKR (96.7 FM)/None
PROJECTED STARTERS, KENNESAW STATE: F Aaron Anderson, 6-7, Jr. (2.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg); F Brandon Dawson, 6-6, So. (0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 spg); G Markeith Cummings, 6-7, Jr. (18.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 spg); G Delbert Love, 6-0, Fr. (3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 4.0 spg); G Spencer Dixon, 6-0, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
PROJECTED STARTERS, AUBURN: F Allen Payne, 6-6, So. (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 apg); F Kenny Gabriel, 6-8, Sr. (13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 apg); C Rob Chubb, 6-10, Jr. (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.0 apg); G Varez Ward, 6-2, So. (14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.0 apg); G Frankie Sullivan, 6-1, Jr. (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 apg)
—Auburn is looking for its first 2-0 start since the 2006-07 season.
—Barbee said freshman guard Cedrick McAfee is out 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.
—First-year Kennesaw State coach Lewis Preston coached under Billy Donovan on Florida’s 2007 national championship squad.

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