Brown gets 18, No. 12 Auburn routs North Florida 95-49
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By JOHN ZENOR
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) The Auburn Tigers collected steals, turnovers and fast-break points and generally just had a good time.
The 12th-ranked Tigers (11-2) turned a smothering defensive performance into a 95-49 victory over North Florida on Saturday while getting 18 points and five 3-pointers from Bryce Brown.
They forced 33 turnovers and racked up 20 steals in their final nonconference tuneup before Southeastern Conference play.
"We were just having fun," said Anfernee McLemore, who had four of those steals. "Just paying attention, playing hard and just being out there playing with a lot of effort."
Auburn converted those turnovers into 41 points, nearly matching the total output for North Florida (5-9). It was the most turnovers by an Auburn opponent in records dating back as far as 1991.
"I thought tonight from an overall standpoint of effort and energy, it was probably our best effort," Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said. "When we play where we're alert and we're engaged, we've got a chance to be pretty good. I've had to coach effort and energy from this team more than I would like, but I think the kids can see the results.
"It's a good way to head into the holidays."
Chuma Okeke had 12 points and five steals while McLemore collected 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Malik Dunbar scored 11.
Noah Horchler and Ezekiel Balogun both scored 10 points to lead North Florida.
Ospreys coach Matthew Driscoll said he told Pearl one quality helps separate Auburn from other major conference teams they've faced.
"They are tenacious on the ball at every position, except for Wiley, but Wiley can guard his position because that guy's usually not handling it," Driscoll said. "Because of that, they make it so hard to get into your offense. They make it so hard for you to get within 30 feet to start what you're trying to do."
Auburn came out cold, but it didn't last long. The Tigers started 3-of-15 shooting and briefly fell behind after going more than five minutes without a basket in the first half. Wiley's layup and dunk triggered a 21-4 Auburn run highlighted by Brown's two 3-pointers and three free throws after he was fouled attempting another.
Auburn scored the final eight points of the half for a 45-23 lead.
"This was the weakest performance we've had all year," Driscoll said.
North Florida: Fell to 0-23 all-time against Top 25 opponents, including losses in back-to-back games (No. 9 Florida State, 98-66). Committed 21 turnovers in the first half.
Auburn: Has gone a Southeastern Conference-best 34-5 in regular-season nonconference play the past three seasons. Had 39 points from the bench and committed just 13 turnovers.
SPENCER'S FIRST 3
The Tigers' bench erupted when senior forward Horace Spencer hit the first 3-pointer of his career in the second half. He had missed his first 13 attempts.
"It was exciting," McLemore said. "I was in the gym a lot with him. He's been working hard. We've been giving him a hard time a little bit."
North Florida hosts Florida National on Wednesday night.
Auburn opens Southeastern Conference play at Mississippi on Jan. 9.
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Updated December 29, 2018