AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Bruce Pearl wants more of the same from Danjel Purifoy in Southeastern Conference games.
Purifoy had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds to break out of a slump and No. 8 Auburn beat Lipscomb 86-59 on Sunday to improve to 12-0 heading into SEC play.
“We’ve talked about the fact that we need him to be good,” said Pearl, the Tigers’ coach. “We won’t win as many SEC games as we should unless he does what he did tonight. But I’m not asking him to do anything he’s not capable of doing.
“He knows that. He absolutely knows it.”
The Tigers remained one of two undefeated teams nationally after Liberty’s loss to LSU, joining No. 15 San Diego State.
Auburn got off to a slow start against Lipscomb (5-8), a team coming off a 23-point loss at Vermont, but dominated late.
Purifoy had only totaled 20 points and was 1 of 13 from 3-point range over the past four games. This time he made 3 of 5 3-pointers and grabbed six offensive rebounds.
“My whole process on my mind was just being aggressive throughout the whole game,” Purifoy said.
Jamal Johnson matched his season high with 14 points on 4-of-6 from 3-point range after some lengthy shooting sessions with his father over the Christmas break in Birmingham.
“Me and my Dad would get in the gym every morning and we would get like 500 shots up and in the evening we’d get a lot of free throws and some more shots up,” Johnson said.
Christian Okoro also scored 14 points.
Samir Doughty had 11 points and seven assists, and Austin Wiley added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
KJ Johnson led Lipscomb with 17 points. Ahsan Asadullah scored 12 points despite picking up his fourth foul with 12:43 remaining. Michael Buckland added 11.
Auburn, which trailed by eight points early, scored 17 points in a row at one point and took a 40-25 lead into halftime.
The closest Lipscomb came in the second half was 55-44 on three free throws by Johnson, who was fouled on a 3-point shot. Auburn answered with Okoro’s layup and a 3-pointer by Devan Cambridge, both off passes from Doughty
“I thought it was a lot like our other guarantee games where we hang and hang, but we’re unable to make the plays late to get over the hill,” Lipscomb coach Lennie Acuff said. “If Auburn shoots it from three like they did today, they are going to be really hard to beat, especially in this place.”
Lipscomb: Jumped out to a 10-2 lead with hot shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers from Buckland. Shot just 38.6%.
Auburn: Started slowly after an eight-day layoff for the holidays. Made 31 of 60 shots. Dominated the boards 43-28.
“I don’t think we were surprised,” Pearl said about Lipscomb’s fast start.
LAST UNBEATEN? Auburn is trying to be the nation’s last unbeaten team. The last time that happened was in the 1998-99 season when the Tigers won their first 17 before falling to No. 7 Kentucky on Jan. 20.
Auburn made 12 of 32 3-pointers, and Pearl says that “adds a different dimension to our offense.”
“I think that’s a big part of our game,” he said. “As we go up against bigger, more physical teams, it’s got to be part of our arsenal.”
UP NEXT Lipscomb faces its first Atlantic Sun Conference opponent of the season, at Stetson Thursday night.
Auburn opens Southeastern Conference Saturday at Mississippi State.