Wendell Green Jr. aims to follow up a successful debut with another strong performance on Friday when No. 22 Auburn hosts Louisiana-Monroe.
Green collected 19 points, five rebounds and three assists to pace the Tigers to a 77-54 win over Morehead State on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
“Wendell was terrific, and it was fun to watch him play with freedom and have fun out there and not turn the ball over,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Green joined the Tigers after spending last season at Eastern Kentucky. He averaged 15.8 points as a freshman and earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors after leading the Colonels to a 22-7 season.
“It was electric,” Green said after Tuesday’s win. “It was fun, the support is crazy here. This was a great opener for us. I think we can be great, one of the best teams in the nation. We’ve got to keep building chemistry and managing adversity.”
Green, however, lamented his struggles from the floor in the second half.
It didn’t matter, considering Auburn (1-0) held a 20-point lead at halftime. The Tigers’ advantage did not dip below 14 the rest of the way.
Former Georgia player K.D. Johnson scored 12 points off the bench, Devan Cambridge had 11 points and Jaylin Williams added 10 for Auburn.
Pearl would relish another sterling defensive performance by his team on Friday. The aggressive Tigers held the Eagles in single digits until 4:30 remained in the first half.
“I was pleased with the effort and the energy,” Pearl said. “… (The) defensive effort was really, really special.”
Louisiana-Monroe likely won’t have fond memories of its season opener on Tuesday. The Warhawks were on the business end of a 101-39 shellacking at the hands of LSU, marking the largest margin of a defeat in school history.
“It is what it is. A bad loss,” Louisiana-Monroe coach Keith Richard said. “Not one player played well, not one coach coached well, including myself. That’s what I told them. We all need to own this. It’s not about the winning and losing. We didn’t play very well when they broke away from us the rest of the game. It was a struggle. We have a lot of improving to do.”
The Warhawks shot 27.7 percent from the floor (13-of-47) and 18.8 percent from 3-point range (3-of-16) en route to recording their lowest point total since a 67-36 setback at Butler on Dec. 28, 2019.
“We struggled to score against their switching, man-to-man defense,” Richard said. “We knew they were going to do it. They did it last year and we worked on it this week. But until you play against these guys and the length and the quickness that they have doing that switching, I thought our guards didn’t do a good job beating them off the dribble when we needed to.”
Thomas Howell paced Louisiana-Monroe with eight points before being ejected for a flagrant foul in the waning moments of the second half.
–Field Level Media