AUBURN, Ala. — When Bryce Brown sat down for his interview session after Auburn basketball’s 83-66 season-opening win over North Florida, he wanted to point out one specific line in the box score.
The line wasn’t his own, although it was definitely worthy of the spotlight — 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting and 5-for-10 on 3-pointers.
His focus was on North Florida’s Dallas Moore, who averaged 19.7 points last season but went 1-for-13 from the field Friday night.
“The coaches always talked to us about how (Moore) is a great shooter and great going left,” Brown said. “So we tried to cut down on him going left as much as we can … we did a great job guarding him.”
Brown was the definition of the “3-and-D” archetype for the Tigers in their season opener. He hit 3 of his first 5 three-pointers — including two inside the first minute of the game — and helped force Moore into a rough shooting performance.
The sophomore was a surprise starter for Auburn, earning the nod on the wing over senior T.J. Dunans. Brown provided a serious scoring spark off the bench in Auburn’s lone exhibition game against Montevallo by hitting 4 of his 7 attempts from downtown.
“Thought Bryce played well,” head coach Bruce Pearl said. “Thought he responded well to the start. Defensively, he was really good. He played well.”
Brown’s hot shooting sparked a tremendous first half from Auburn from deep, as the Tigers hit 10 of their 17 attempts from 3-point range before the break. Defensively, Brown and the Tigers put the clamps on what was a high-scoring North Florida team by holding the Ospreys to just 27.8 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
For Brown, the great start on defense was more important than the 3-point barrage that led to a comfortable season-opening win.
“Defense was our first priority, because we knew they were a really good team,” Brown said. “I found open gaps in the defense, the 4-man hit me, our guards hit me and I just happened to get open and make shots.”
Although Auburn cooled off in the second half from 3-point range, Brown hit two more deep shots to ensure he led all scorers. The Tigers’ ball movement, especially with athletic redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy starting at the power forward position, created lots of open looks for Auburn from deep.
“We can make shots. We really can,” Pearl said. “With Danjel at the 4, we can put four guys out there that can shoot it. That’s fun. It makes it hard to guard.”
Brown wasn’t expected to start Friday night for Auburn, but he thrived in a role of deep shooter and lockdown defenders.
Last season, a lot of scoring pressure fell on Brown’s shoulders after the dismissal of star guard Kareem Canty. In the Friday season opener, the sophomore shooter played more freely alongside newcomers Purifoy, Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron.
“I have great players on my team,” Brown said. “Not saying we didn’t last year, but we have a lot of great players offensively and defensively that can make plays. I can say it is a relief. All the pressure now isn’t on my shoulders anymore like it pretty much was last year.
“We have great players and if we just keep finding each other and keep hitting each other, we’re going to be pretty good.”