Senior Ronny LeMelle scored a career-high 19 points to lead Auburn to a 69-54 season-opening victory over Lipscomb on Sunday afternoon at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
LeMelle connected on 5-of-9 from three-point range as the Tigers hit 12-of-26 from beyond the arc. LeMelle added five assists.
The Tigers (1-0) jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game and held Lipscomb (1-2) without a field goal until the 11:26 mark of the first half en route to their eighth straight season-opening win.
"I thought we played extremely hard for the entire 40 minutes," said head coach Jeff Lebo. "There was some improvement today and we kept up defensively for the majority of the game. We kept them out of rhythm and they didn't shoot the ball particularly well against us. It is big for the guys to come out with a win.
"We beat a good basketball team today. I would have not told you that we would have won that easily before the game."
In addition to LeMelle, Auburn has two other players score in double-figures as freshman Rasheem Barrett scored 13 points, hitting 3-of-6 from 3-point range and sophomore Daniel Hayles added 10 including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
"Rasheem (Barrett) did a nice job for us, especially in the first half, he hit his shots. He is a big presence on the defensive end too," said Lebo.
Freshman Josh Dollard led the Tigers with 10 rebounds to go along with two blocks and eight points, shooting 4-of-10 from the field.
The Tigers held a 37-26 lead at the break and shot 50 percent from the field in the half. Behind the strength of a 16-6 run to start the second half, Auburn opened up its largest lead of the game on a basket by Hayles at the 11:51 mark to extend the Tigers' lead to 21 (53-32).
With the Tigers' lead at 21, the Bisons went on an 18-7 run of their own and narrowed the Tigers' lead to 10 (60-50) with 3:34 remaining before Auburn closed the game with a 9-4 run.
The Tigers shot 44 percent from the field for the game and held Lipscomb to just 29 percent from the field.
In the first half, Auburn shot 50 percent from the field and 24 of the Tigers' 37 first-half points came from beyond the arc, as they connected on 8-of-14 three-point attempts.
Freshman point guard Quantez Robertson, in his first college start, led the Tigers with six assists and added five points, seven rebounds and no turnovers in 26 minutes.
"I was proud of how Quantez Robinson played in his first game," said Lebo. "He made our team good tonight. I thought Quantez was terrific out there, moving the ball up and down the court."
Auburn turned the ball over just 15 times in the game, forcing 19 turnovers by Lipscomb.
"Coach said we needed to limit our turnovers," said Robertson. "He told us we would have to start running in practice for turning the ball over. I think we were really focused on that today."
Freshman Korvotney Barber scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in 16 minutes of work.
"Korvotney (Barber) struggled a little bit in his game," said Lebo. "He was out the last two days of practice, he hurt his knee. We thought it was a torn ligament, but luckily that wasn't the case and it is just sprained."
The Bisons had two players score in double figures as Eddie Ard scored 13 and Cameron Robinson added 11.
"Overall, I thought it was a great team win," said Lebo. "I don't think that this team will have guys that go out and drop 30 points in a game. We all have to get seven, eight or 10 points in a game and maybe have one guy hit 18 in a game. That is who we are going to be this year and what we are."
Auburn returns to action on Friday, Nov. 25 when they host Gardner-Webb at 7:00 p.m. in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.