AUBURN, Ala. -- Bryce Brown poured in a career-high 31 points to guide Auburn to a season-opening win over Norfolk State, 102-74, Friday night at Auburn Arena.
"We play our best when everyone contributes, and I think we got a lot of contributions," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Bryce Brown picked up where he left off in Italy. He led us in scoring in Italy. I thought he was terrific tonight, and I don't think he forced a lot of action. He got a lot of good looks. He scored at the rim, he scored from three, and he had a really solid defensive game."
Brown's 31 points were just four off the single-game record for points in a season opener, held by Lee DeFore's 35 versus Rice in 1965.
The junior went 12-of-16 from the floor with 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Brown also added four rebounds, one assist and one steal across 27 minutes of action.
"It was definitely not what I predicted, but I've been challenged by the coaches," Brown stated. "I'm trying to do a little more than stand on the perimeter and be one-dimensional. [Norfolk State] couldn't stop me from getting to the rack, so I decided to proceed with that."
Four other players tallied double-digit scoring outputs as Jared Harper and Desean Murray racked up 13 points apiece, while Mustapha Heron and Anfernee McLemore contributed 10 points each.
McLemore tied for the team lead with seven rebounds and protected the glass by tying a career-best with four blocks. Murray also notched seven boards while tallying three assists and two steals in his first competitive game in almost two years.
"It felt great being out there again," Murray said. "I hadn't played in about two years, so it felt really good to be out there with my team. I was able to help my team. I watched a lot last year. It felt good to be out there, help them out and be able to get this first win at home."
The Tigers raced out to a 7-0 lead behind buckets from Harper, Heron and Murray to open the game. The home team maintained its advantage through the opening 20 minutes of play and never let the Spartans get within less than six before halftime.
Auburn held its largest lead of the first half at the buzzer when it led by 17 with a score of 49-32.
Much of the same occurred in the second half as the Tigers roared out to a fast start out of the locker room and led by as many as 41 at 101-60 with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
The Tigers went on to secure their 82nd season-opening victory by a final score of 102-74. It was the most points scored by an Auburn team in the first game of a campaign since it dropped 114 points in 1998 in a win over Southeastern Louisiana.
Auburn next hits the road for three games at the 2017 Gildan Charleston Classic, Nov. 16, 17 and 19. The Tigers begin the tournament against Indiana State Thursday at 10:30 a.m. CT on ESPNU.