Fast starts were the key for Auburn and Temple in their first-round wins in the Gildan Charleston Classic. The team that can start quickly in Friday’s early-morning tip-off in South Carolina might be headed to the tournament championship game on Sunday.
Auburn blazed out of the gate in an 83-64 win over Indiana State on Thursday, shooting 50 percent in the first half en route to a 21-point halftime lead. “It felt really good to get out on the court and just play as hard and good as we did,” Auburn forward Desean Murray told reporters. “The coaches had us prepared and everybody was ready to play. We played great on the defensive end, and it all starts with defense.” The Owls followed the same blueprint, shooting 51.5 percent in the first half and leading by as many as 19 points early in their 76-65 triumph over Old Dominion. The Monarchs crept within 67-65 with 2:10 left before Temple scored the final nine points to win its season opener.
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ABOUT AUBURN (2-0): Things have been chaotic off the court for the Tigers – they’re without three assistant coaches and two key players while the program is under investigation – but they’ve been outstanding in their first two games. Bryce Brown (23 points) has led the team in scoring in each contest after putting up 15 points on Thursday, and Murray (13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) has been a force inside. With four players averaging double digits in points and six averaging at least seven, the Tigers haven’t yet missed suspended stars Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley.
ABOUT TEMPLE (1-0): The Owls were sharp in their first official action of the season, especially shooting from the outside. They were 10-for-19 from 3-point range, with Shizz Alston Jr. going 5-for-8 en route to a team-high 23 points. Quinton Rose recorded 20 points, five rebounds and five assists while Obi Enechionyia added 15 points and six boards, and their length could present matchup problems for an Auburn team that lacks size in the frontcourt.
1. Despite starting only one player over 6-5, Auburn has outrebounded its first two opponents by an average of 10.5 boards.
2. Alston has made 32 straight free throws dating to last season.
3. Auburn’s top four scorers have combined to go 27-for-32 from the foul line through two games.
PREDICTION: Temple 74, Auburn 71