What Bruce Pearl, Auburn’s players said after beating Penn

For the sixth straight time, the Auburn Tigers have won a basketball time by double-digits. This time, taking down Penn 88-68 Tuesday night in a packed Neville Arena.

Auburn once again showcased its depth with four different players scoring in double figures. Johni Broome led the way with 24 points while Chad Baker-Mazara scored 16 off the bench.

The Tigers had a commanding 51-32 lead at halftime after they went 10-of-19 from 3-point range to start the game. Penn mounted a comeback after the break but KD Johnson scored back-to-back baskets to end the threat.

Here is what Pearl, Broome and Denver Jones said after Tuesday’s night win.

Bruce Pearl's opening statement...

“You can see, especially the way they (Penn) started the second half, that’s a good team. That team’s going to compete with Harvard, and probably Princeton, for the Ivy League title. They were without, arguably, their best player – their point guard. That team beat Villanova earlier in the year. They played Kentucky, so they weren’t going to be really super impressed with us. Those are high level guys. I thought, again, our front line, Johni Broome dominated in there. We shared it and we just took care of business. Now, we get ready to go into conference play. Our first two (SEC) opponents have beaten us, Arkansas two out of the last three times we played them. Last time we were at Arkansas, they stormed the court when we were No. 1 in the country. We’ve won there before, but it’ll be everything we want and then some. Then, we bring Texas A&M in next Tuesday (at Neville Arena) and they’ve had our number, so it’s not the easiest way to start the conference. But we’re playing well right now, so that’s a very positive thing heading in. We finish up our non-conference schedule, 11-2, and the math as far as our KenPom (ranking) and things along those lines, we’re in position to be in position. Over the last seven years, we’ve had the best non-conference winning percentage in the SEC. That matters to me because we wanted to raise the credibility of Auburn Basketball. The math matters, so if you’re in our league and you’re a bad number, then you bring the whole league down, you just bring them down. If you have a chance during league play and you have a bad number, and you beat someone a couple of times, you knock them out of the tournament. I didn’t want Auburn to be that, and it had been that way for a long time, so I’m very pleased that this team continued to add to the history.”

On the three-point shooting...

“I thought we could shoot it for sure and the one game we didn’t shoot it well was App State. But, I have confidence in all those guys to shoot it, and now with Johni (Broome) making three tonight, it’s great that he’s seeing the ball go in right now. He’s going to make us better offensively and so I’m obviously excited about that. Penn packed it in. It was hard to get the ball posted up inside and it was hard to drive it and get to the rim, so the shots were open and fortunately they made shots and that was a factor.”

On the impact of Broome making three's

“It’s just been one of those things where he hasn’t had that many great looks. He had better clean looks tonight. He took them in rhythm. He has such a great offensive pace to his game. He doesn’t rush, he’s a great athlete, he has great balance and he’s able to do a lot of things in there offensively. Scores with his back to the basket, he’s old school. Stepping to the foul line and making free throws is obviously really important. You know he works at it and I heard Peyton Manning say, I don’t know how recently he said it, but he said, ‘when you’re best players are your hardest workers, and when your best players are locked in,’ he says, ‘it sets the tone.’ He talked about how rookies would come in and they’d see the vets and the great players and they’d be in film taking notes, so then they’d start taking notes. First guy in, last guy out. The young guys go, ‘oh, that’s Indianapolis Colts football, or Denver Broncos football, or Auburn basketball,” so Johni (Broome) has sort of taken that responsibility. I think that we go as far as he takes us, on-and-off the court as a leader.”

Forward/Center Johni Broome

On his 3-ball game coming back…

“It felt good to see the first one go in, but a lot of credit goes to my team and coaches. They still believe in me and give me those shots. They set those shots up for me. In practice it is the same thing. I just credit those people – the man above as well for real.”

On what it has taken to become a reliable 3-point shooter…

“Just reps. Repping it every day during practice. And when no one is watching, shooting. Shooting with guys like Denver (Jones), Aden (Holloway), Trey (Donaldson), K.D. (Johnson) and having competition with them. They are obviously great shooters, so I try to keep up with them when they are doing shooting drills. It gives me the confidence to shoot, too.”


On what Chad Baker-Mazara brings to the team…

“That is what makes this team so special. We have multiple guys who can change the game for us. That is what we are going to need in SEC play. We can’t just have one guy, not just two guys, but we need a couple of guys to make some shots. When we were going through a drought, he got a layup, then a three ball, then a steal and free throws. He just brings a spark to the team and that gives everyone else a moment to catch their breaths and take turns in a way. You pass it and Denver (Jones) makes two shots, I make a shot, J-Will (Jaylin Williams) makes a shot, Aden (Holloway) makes a shot and we keep feeding off of each other. Sometimes, we need a certain player to make a couple of shots to get us back going. That is what Chad (Baker-Mazara) did today.”

Guard Denver Jones

On having the bigs step up…

“I have said before, this is the key to our success this year. It shows in how we came out in the second half – we came out slow. We put our second group in, and they turned us right back up and put the lead back up. That is what we take credit for.”

On changing up the offense on the fly…

“Honestly, just the natural flow. I just see in the first half, who is hitting shots. In the second half, just like you said, we noticed our threes were fogging. We decided let’s get back in the paint. Inside out, work inside out.”

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire