AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - The Auburn Men's Basketball team opened their season Monday night in Neville Arena as they beat the George Mason Patriots 70-52.
The question head coach Bruce Pearl had been asked for so long has been, "who's your starting five?" He finally answered that question, putting out Wendell Green, Zep Jasper, Jaylin Williams, Johni Broome, and Chris Moore.
"These roles aren't defined yet. There's so much parity and so much balance; I'm going to let them define their role… This team will continue to evolve," Pearl said.
Auburn's leading scorer on the night was Wendell Green. Green scored 16 points, along with four assists and four rebounds. Johni Broome and K.D. Johnson also had double-digit points scoring 12 a piece.
The Tigers led George Mason 29-11 with about five minutes left in the first half. Thanks to Auburn's poor shooting from the field and the charity stripe, the Patriots went on a 13-2 run to close the first half and headed to the locker room down 31-24.
Auburn flipped the script to start the second half on an 11-5 run, shooting 5-for-7 during that stretch. The Tigers dominated the second half and ultimately pulled away, winning by 18 points.
Auburn shot just 33.8 percent from the floor and 16 percent from 3-point range. K.D. Johnson struggled to find his groove offensively, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
"We're going to rely on our defense, and defense wins championships… It's early in the season. Shots aren't falling right now, but we're not going to panic," said Johnson.
The Tigers' defense was incredible, holding George Mason to a 37.8 field goal percentage. George Mason turned the ball over 19 times.
Auburn was dominant on the boards as they grabbed 22 offensive rebounds. Junior Dylan Cardwell led the Tigers with five, followed by Johni Broome's four. On the other end, George Mason only grabbed ten offensive rebounds.
Along with his nine rebounds, Cardwell had five blocks in 13 minutes of action off the bench. In his time on the floor, Dylan was nothing short of a burst of energy constantly hyping up The Jungle.
The strengths of this team are clear: defense and depth.
Auburn will take on the University of South Florida on Friday at home in Neville Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 pm, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.