Denson hit 3 of 4 from long range. Kenny Gabriel had 16 points—knocking down 2 of 4 3-pointers—eight rebounds and five blocks, while Frankie Sullivan went 3 of 3 from long range with 14 points for the Tigers (4-0).
It wasn’t enough for Tigers coach Tony Barbee.
“It was sluggish the whole night,” Barbee said. “Until we start to enjoy playing hard and playing tough and playing nasty, we’re going to look sluggish.
“We don’t enjoy playing that way right now. We think it’s about trying to outscore people, and that’s not going to do anything but get you beat.”
Auburn put the game away in the final 3:25 of the first half with a 20-2 run to take a 44-25 lead into halftime. Auburn hit seven straight shots during the spree, including five from 3-point range, with a Gabriel 3 with two seconds left capping the run.
The Tigers shot 8 of 11 (72.7 percent) from 3-point range in the first half and finished 9 of 15 (60 percent) for the game.
Still, Sullivan said, it was a bit of fool’s gold.
“We’re not satisfied at all with ourselves,” the junior guard said. “I think we played really bad. The score showed otherwise; people will think that because we hit shots and stuff it was good, but our defensive intensity is not there right now.”
Savalace Townsend led the Golden Lions (1-4) with 24 points.
Kyle Jones went 5 of 12 from beyond the arc, scoring 15 points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Daniel Broughton had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Golden Lions went into the half down 19 points and trailed by as many as 22 early in the second half, but a 15-2 run capped off by a Jones 3-pointer brought them back within nine points at 51-42 with 14:08 to go.
Auburn went on a 10-3 run to extend its lead back to 61-45, but the Golden Lions hung around, trailing by 12 at 66-54 with 3:44 to go.
“I think our guys came out and maintained their composure with Auburn pressuring us in the first half,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach George Ivory said. “They made some crucial shots and they shot the ball well. I’m proud of my guys, but we have to realize that we can’t give them open shots.”
Rob Chubb hit a layup to break a 3:37 scoreless snap and Gabriel followed with a dunk to close out the win.
“We’re not enjoying the grind right now,” Barbee said. “We’re coming to practice right now like we’re going to the dentist’s chair, and it’s showing in how we’re playing. It’s just disappointing that we’re taking steps backwards.”
The teams traded mini-runs for the first 12 minutes of the game, with neither side leading by more than five points.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff had an early 5-4 lead on Auburn, who to that point had not trailed this season, on a Lavoris Weathers putback with 16:54 left in the first half. The Golden Lions then built the lead to 11-6 on a Broughton floater with 13:25 to go.
A Denson 3-pointer brought the Tigers back even at 11-11 at the 12:28 mark, and Denson hit another 3 to put Auburn up for good at 23-20 with 5:15 to go in the half.
Sullivan scored 12 in the first half and Denson scored 11, each going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc as the Tigers shot 72.7 percent (8 of 11) as a team.
Townsend scored 13 for the Golden Lions in the first half on 5 of 9 shooting. The rest of the team shot 5 of 24 (20.8 percent).