After breezing through an exhibition game vs. Eckerd and kicking the season off with a 83–74 win over Georgia Southern, the Tigers will hit the road to Maryland to face an early test against a strong Davidson team in the Veterans Classic on Friday night.
It's a test that Auburn coach Bruce Pearl isn't taking lightly.
"Davidson is another really experienced and well-coached team, a team that's picked in virtually everyone's top 30 or 35 teams in the country" said Pearl. "They're picked to be in the top two or three of the Sun Belt Conference."
The exhibition 97-53 win over Eckerd didn't present the Tigers with much of a challenge, at least not enough of one to please Pearl, who said he thought Auburn's effort was solid overall.
"I wish we got exposed a little bit more," he said.
Pearl went deep into his bench against Eckerd, with 12 players seeing more than eight minutes on the floor and the new backcourt of J'Von McCormick and Samir Doughty leading the way with 23 minutes apiece. Those two set the pace for the Tigers, scoring 20 and 14 points and dishing out five and four assists, respectively.
"I thought we got really good point guard play with J'von McCormick and Samir Doughty, in particular," said Pearl. "I think we'll have to lean on them certainly in the backcourt."
Pearl added that McCormick has really stepped into his role at point guard after taking over for Jared Harper.
"He's been really good," said Pearl. "He's taking control. He's leading well; he's leading by example. I asked that position to do an awful lot."
Pearl also had more praise for Doughty, who averaged 7.3 points last season after transferring from VCU sitting out his sophomore year.
Doughty has been playing at the two-guard position this season, which places added pressure on the senior because of the extra attention given by opposing defenses.
"It's a little harder to get it into an off-guard's hands," said Pearl. "If you think back, there were times during games where Bryce Brown was quiet. You'd wonder, where is Bryce? The defense was working hard to take him away. We have to do things to get him the ball. By Samir having the ball, he's good with the ball. I think it lets him do some more play-making. He's got a better feel and understanding of what we're doing."
Pearl will also lean on seniors Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore in the frontcourt. In only 18 minutes on the floor, Wiley put together a double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while McLemore added 13 points and nine boards of his own.
"Austin had a really quiet double-double," said Pearl. "I think you can see how physically imposing he is around the basket. we can do an even better job with making sure he gets deep touches and take advantage of the inside.
"He'll have nights where he'll really dominate."
Purifoy also had a strong outing, hitting three of his five three-point attempts and finishing with 14 points overall.
Highly touted newcomers Isaac Okoro and Babatunde Akingbola didn't make much of an impact in their debut on the Tigers court, scoring only three points apiece, although freshman guard Devan Cambridge made a great first impression, hitting two three-pointers and finishing with 11 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes after missing the previous three weeks of practice.
"Devan Cambridge showed how exciting a player he is and what he's capable of doing," said Pearl. "He's obviously a high-flier. He's a sponge. He's going to get better. For us to win,him being out three weeks kind of sets us back. You could see he has a real shot to be a top right or nine player, for sure."
Pearl added that he expects to cut the player rotation back to 10 in the early part of the season as the team's identity starts to take shape.
"I wanted to give a lot of guys some opportunities," said Pearl. "We'll cut that back a little bit the next few games."
Auburn and Davidson will tip off at 5 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.