Auburn has four seniors in its starting lineup but it's a four-star freshman that could make the biggest difference this season for the No. 23 Tigers. Isaac Okoro, a 6-6 guard, looks to build off his strong debut as Auburn meets Davidson on Friday in the Veterans Classic at Annapolis, Md.
Okoro, who coach Bruce Pearl told reporters is the best defensive guard he's ever signed, recorded 12 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes of the Tigers' 83-74 season-opening victory over Georgia Southern on Tuesday. "He was efficient, flying around," Auburn's Samir Doughty, who scored a game-high 20 points, told reporters about Okoro. "He was doing the little stuff that we're used to him doing, posting him up. We're going to use him a lot more than y'all think, but I think he played a good all-around game." The Wildcats lost to Saint Louis in the 2019 ACC Tournament semifinals and their season ended three days later with a setback to eventual NIT runner-up Lipscomb 89-81 in the first round. "(Davidson) is absolutely a team and program you don't schedule," Pearl told reporters. "You stay away from (coach) Bob (McKillop). Period. The end. They shoot the three. They're a veteran team. They bring everyone back. It's going to be a great challenge for us."
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ABOUT AUBURN (1-0): The Tigers received balanced scoring in the opener with senior center Austin Wiley and senior forward Danjel Purifoy scoring 13 points apiece with Wiley's game-high nine rebounds helping his team win the battle of the boards 41-27. Doughty, a senior guard, stuffed the stat sheet with five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Senior guard J'Von McCormick (nine points) was the only starter not to reach double figures but contributed a game-high four assists.
ABOUT DAVIDSON (2018-19: 24-10): The Wildcats return their starting lineup from last season including Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who averaged 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season. The senior is joined in the backcourt by junior Kellan Grady, an all-conference pick who averaged 17.3 points in 2018-19 and scored 26 in a 102-94 exhibition victory over Glenville State on Monday. Sophomore guard Luke Frampton (10.3 points last season) came alive with 20 points and seven assists Monday.
1. The Tigers committed 21 turnovers Tuesday - five apiece by McCormick and Wiley - after averaging 11.7 last season.
2. Bob McKillop is 578-350 as he starts his 31st campaign as Wildcats coach.
3. Navy hosts East Carolina in the second game of the doubleheader.
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