Auburn 68, Kennesaw State 55

AUBURN, Ala. -- Frankie Sullivan poured in 22 points for Auburn in a 68-55 win over an undermanned Kennesaw State team Monday night, giving the Tigers their first 2-0 start since the 2006-07 season.

The Owls (0-2) played without 6-foot-7 guard Markeith Cummings, who sat out the game in sweats on the bench for an undisclosed reason.

Cummings, who led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring last year, scored 18 of Kennesaw State's 31 points in its season-opening, 85-31 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee said he didn't know the Owls would be without Cummings until about five minutes before the game, but his players knew earlier because they saw he was not dressed out during warm-ups.

"That really surprised us," Sullivan said. "And we came out nonchalant."

Sullivan, who missed all but six games last year with the lingering effects of an ACL tear, hit 6 of 11 from the field, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range, as the Tigers shot 46.2 percent (24-of-52) on the night and 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

"It gives you a lot of confidence that you still got it," Sullivan said. "I was a little skeptical about my jump shot because I wasn't hitting it over the first few games. But I see that I still have it."

Rob Chubb scored 13 and had seven rebounds for Auburn and Varez Ward had 9 points to go along with six assists.

Kennesaw State struggled without its top offensive threat, hitting only 18 of 55 (32.7 percent) from the floor and 5 of 19 (26.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Aaron Anderson posted a double-double for the Owls, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, Spencer Dixon scored 11 and Nick Turner added 10.

The Tigers went into the half up nine points, then doubled their lead in the first 3 minutes of the second half, with a Kenny Gabriel putback staking them to a 38-20 lead with 17:00 to go.

The Owls went more than 7 minutes without a basket before Turner hit a 3-pointer to cut the Tigers' lead to 41-24 with 16:12 to go.

Anderson made a breakaway dunk off an inbounds pass to bring Kennesaw State within seven points at 53-46 with 6:32 to go, but that's as close as the Owls would get in the second half.

"I feel like the game plan worked for the most part, but we have to cover the open 3-point shots and limit the runs and fast breaks" Dixon said. "We hung in there for a little bit."

Chris Denson and Sullivan hit back-to-back 3-pointers to touch off a 13-3 Auburn run that ended Kennesaw State's upset bid.

"I like the way we responded, but we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place," Barbee said. "That is the issue I have. We did respond, but we can't afford to take anybody for granted."

The teams traded baskets for most of the first half, with a 10-4 run ending on a Frankie Sullivan 3-pointer. That gave the Tigers a 23-15 lead with 10:46 to go until halftime.

After the Owls' Romain Henry hit a 3-pointer to cut Auburn's lead to 25-20 with 3:36 left, the Tigers closed out the half on a Willy Kouassi dunk and two free throws from Josh Wallace to go into the break ahead 29-20.

Auburn shot 50 percent (11 of 22) from the field in the first half, but was hamstrung offensively by nine turnovers.

Chubb scored nine points in the first half, but only played 9 minutes due to foul trouble. Sullivan scored eight in the first 20 minutes and Wallace added four assists.

The Owls hit only 25.9 percent (7 of 27) of their shots in the first half, with Anderson (six points), Henry and Andrew Osemhen (five points each) leading the way.