The Auburn Tigers hit 11 threes and outscored the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 60-42 in the second half on their way to a 105-80 win on Friday night at Auburn Arena.
Louisiana (1-2) put five players in double figures, led by Brian Williams’ 18 points and seven rebounds. But the Cajuns were just 3-of-15 from three-point range and surrendered 20 turnovers to the Tigers (2-1), who were led by KT Harrell’s 24 points.
“Auburn played extremely well, especially in the second half,” Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said. “They shot it well from three and that was the difference in the game.”
Jay Wright, Johnathan Stove and Bryce Washington all had 11 points off the bench, with Wright’s coming all in the first half. Xavian Rimmer also finished with 10 points for the Cajuns.
That output helped lead UL to a 42-18 advantage in bench points, but the Tigers had five players in double figures of their own, including three – Harrell, Tahj Shamsid-Deen (21), Cinmeon Bowers (20) – to put in at least 20 points.
Auburn did most of their damage in the second half, hitting 69 percent from the floor after being held to just 43.2 percent in the opening period, and hitting seven of their 11 threes for the game.
Wright provided a spark for the Cajuns off the bench in the first half, entering after the midway point of the period and pumping in 11 points, including four of five foul shots. Williams added 10 of his own, and late 6-0 spurt cut a 10-point Auburn lead to as little as four before Bowers banked in a three as the halftime buzzer sounded.
“We were in a good spot at halftime,” Marlin said. “We didn’t play great, but we were in a good spot.”
Auburn led by as much as 10 on two occasions in the opening half, taking advantage of the offensive glass with nine offensive rebounds and a dozen second-chance points, including nine in the half’s final eight minutes.
The teams traded blows before UL took its first lead of the game at 17-16 on a three from Stove, one of just two triples in the half for the Cajuns. But a pair of foul shots on the next possession from KC Ross-Miller put Auburn back in front and sparked a 13-3 Tiger run that pushed the lead to 29-19 with just under 10 minutes to play.
Wright then subbed in and immediately made a difference, scoring five points in his first two minutes on the floor. A pull-up jumper from him cut the lead to 35-30 before consecutive Auburn scores pushed the lead back to 40-30. But the Cajuns scored eight of the next 10 points, including a layup from Stove to trim the lead to 42-38 before Bowers’ shot provided the halftime margin.
Louisiana stayed within striking distance early in the second half before a 14-3 Tiger run in a span of just over four minutes pushed their lead to 18 points with just over 10 minutes to play in the game.
Rimmer gave UL some life with buckets on consecutive possessions, including a three with just under seven minutes left in the game; however, the Tigers again answered with a quick 7-2 burst of their own, capped by a layup from Bowers that peaked the lead at 27 with 5:43 remaining.
Washington added four of his five buckets for the game in the final five minutes of play, accounting for eight of UL’s final 12 points.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will now travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for the neutral-site portion of the MGM Grand Main Event. UL will take on Milwaukee on Monday before facing off with Oral Roberts on Tuesday. Both games will be held at the MGM Grand Hotel.