AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Chris Denson got Auburn started fast with a six-point surge over the first four minutes against Alabama, capped by an acrobatic reverse layup. Then, KT Harrell one-upped him with a seven-point flurry in the next two minutes beginning with a 3-pointer.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Chris Denson got Auburn started fast with a six-point surge over the first four minutes against Alabama, capped by an acrobatic reverse layup.
Then, KT Harrell one-upped him with a seven-point flurry in the next two minutes beginning with a 3-pointer.
The Southeastern Conference's top scoring duo literally matched the Crimson Tide point for point in Thursday night's 74-55 victory. Denson had a career-high 32 points and Harrell added 23.
"Good time to have a game where both of those guys are going," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said after the game.
When it comes to scoring, the Tigers (9-9, 1-6 Southeastern Conference) have been largely a two-man show this season going into Saturday's game with Georgia (10-9, 4-3). The Alabama game just took it to another level.
Denson is the league's No. 2 scorer at 19.6 points per game, one spot ahead of Harrell (19.3).
Their 38.9 combined points per game represents the fifth-highest total of any tandem in Division I and accounts for 53.1 percent of Auburn's scoring.
Missouri's Jabari Brown (19.8) points and Jordan Clarkson (18.5) are next-best in the SEC with a combined 38.2-point average.
Either Denson or Harrell has led Auburn in scoring in every game this season. Nobody else is averaging in double figures.
"We need it from them every night," Barbee said. "There's no question they're the catalyst on this team, and that doesn't mean just scoring. That means making plays for this team. (Thursday night) making plays was scoring the ball. They've been that way all year long, not at this level though."
Denson and Harrell had each scored 20 points in the same game twice. They managed that feat in the first two games of the season, wins over Nicholls State and Northwestern State. But they'd never had such big games together against an SEC team.
"That's what we've got to do," Harrell said. "We have a lot of games where I'm playing well and he's sort of not really in his rhythm or vice versa. (Against Alabama) we did a good job of being aggressive and making plays. That's what we've got to do for this team.
The Tigers had dropped 16 in a row against league competition before the win over Alabama.
Auburn's two high-scoring guards get their points in different fashion. Denson is the athletic slasher who can make awkward-looking shots and score in traffic, but has only hit 22.2 percent of his 3-pointers.
Harrell's 41.3-percent clip from 3-point range ranks fourth in the SEC, and he's made 45 of them compared to Denson's 12.
"You look at how they space you offensively," Grant said. "They take advantage of driving opportunities. They have other pieces around them that complement what those guys do. Those guys are going to consistently take the bulk of the responsibility of scoring so you have to limit their opportunities and we weren't able to do that."
Harrell, a Virginia transfer who sat out last season, has scored in double digits in every game. Denson has done it in all but two games.
The Alabama game just represented a microcosm of how heavily Auburn relies on them offensively.
They opened the second half against Alabama much like they did the first. Denson and Harrell scored 17 of the Tigers' first 19 points as Auburn started to pull away.
"We did it on the backs of those two," Barbee said, "and we did it on the backs of our defense, as well."
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