AUBURN - Noel Johnson knew it was there all along. And Monday night, he showed it.
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum goes to the basket against Georgia Southwestern/Todd Van Emst photo
Johnson had to sit out the first semester of last season after transferring from Clemson. Then he battled injuries through the rest of the season. Healthy and happy, he had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead Auburn to a 66-50 victory over Georgia Southwestern in an exhibition at Auburn Arena.
"I think a big part of my game is rebounding and scoring, too," said Johnson, a 6-foot-6 senior forward. "I'm going to show my whole game the whole season. It's easier to play with no worries."
Unlike their 108-57 win over Victory in their first exhibition game, the Tigers huffed and puffed against Georgia Southwestern, a Division II with some Division I talent. They fell behind by as many as eight points in the first half before taking a 32-29 halftime lead and pulling away in the second half.
"They were going about 1,000 miles an hour and we were going about 200," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "It has to be the other way around. I thought once we got into our pace of how hard we play, we made some things hard on them."
The Tigers shot 42.9 percent from the field on 24-of-56 and had 12 turnovers. They were 11-of-17 at the free throw line. Barbee said he welcomed the less-than-dominant performance. It was, he said, an experience his team needed.
"No question it was," Barbee said. "I said it to the staff the whole game I'm glad it's not a 50-point blowout. I was over on the bench saying 'I hope we lose this and we can learn from it.' My staff said 'You are crazy.' We definitely needed this one so I could get some of these guys' attention."
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, Auburn's 7-foot junior college transfer center, had 11 points and blocked four shots.
Thirteen Auburn players got into the game, 11 of them scoring.
The Tigers open their regular season against IPFW on Friday night at 7 at Auburn Arena.