AUBURN, Ala. - Johni Broome dominated Virginia Tech to the tune of 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead Auburn to a 74-57 victory in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge Wednesday at Neville Arena, the Tigers' fifth straight win and 48TH consecutive non-conference home triumph.
Broome surpassed his previous Auburn career-high of 27 points while coming within two points of his collegiate best at Morehead State.
"My teammates encouraged me to get that," said Broome, who was 11-for-19 from the field and 8 of 13 from the free-throw line. "Seeing my teammates being more excited than I am, that's big, and it makes me feel great. I was trying to play as hard as I could."
Valuing possessions at an elite level, Auburn committed a season-low eight turnovers while forcing 21, leading to a commanding 30-5 lead in points off turnovers.
"A great defensive effort to turn that team over 21 teams," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "I think the kids are starting to get excited about guarding in such a way that can frustrate the opponent, which leads to transition and some fun things. That team doesn't turn the ball over. We were able to make it difficult for them offensively, and we got great rim protection."
Tre Donaldson scored seven consecutive Auburn points early in the second half to restore the Tigers' double-digit lead after Virginia Tech had gotten within seven.
Broome took over from there, scoring 14 points in the second half after netting 16 in the first.
The Tigers won by 17 points despite making only 2 of 16 3-point attempts, holding Virginia Tech to 27.5-percent shooting.
Students in The Jungle, who filled their courtside seats 90 minutes before tipoff, chanted "SEC, SEC!" as the game concluded.
"That one matters double because it's the ACC/SEC Challenge," Pearl said. "If we're going to establish Auburn as one of the better teams in the SEC, you've got to be able to be trusted to deliver against that league. The crowd can take our guys to another level, and it can bother some other opponents. We've got the best home-court advantage in college basketball."
"What Bruce has done here is quite remarkable," Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. "He's a heck of a basketball coach. They've got a good outfit, very explosive offense. Auburn's very good, exceptionally well-coached, and they're going to go on and have a really good year."
Auburn led 33-24 at the half after holding the Hokies to 33-percent shooting and forcing 12 turnovers while committing only four.
The Tigers took an early 18-4 lead with Chad Baker-Mazara accounting for half of those points, including going 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. Baker-Mazara filled up the box score in the half with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in the half, finishing with 15 points.
"We're really good when he's on the floor because he knows how to play," Pearl said. "He has stuff you can't teach. He can obviously score but he can also pass. He's a stat sheet stuffer."
Broome stole a pass, left the ball for Aden Holloway and sprinted downcourt to receive and slam Holloway's no-look lob to put Auburn ahead 25-10.
After a 9-0 Virginia Tech run pulled the Hokies within six points, Broome stopped the run with a dunk, then made a pair of free throws before VT scored the last four points of the half.
Both teams struggled from 3-point range in the half, with Chaney Johnson accounting for Auburn's only make in 11 attempts while the Hokies were 1-for-7. Donaldson hit a 3-pointer in the second half and finished with nine points.
Auburn (5-1) travels to Boone, North Carolina, Saturday to play Appalachian State at noon CT on ESPN2.