AUBURN, Ala. (AP)Wendell Green Jr. scored 16 points while K.D. Johnson and Johni Broome each had 12 to lead No. 15 Auburn to a 70-52 win over George Mason in the season opener for both teams Monday night.
The Tigers weren’t really challenged much in their first game since losing NBA first-round draft picks Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler. Green and Johnson are the top returnees on a team picked to finish fourth in the Southeastern Conference.
Broome enjoyed a solid debut for Auburn as one of the players coach Bruce Pearl brought in to replace the two big men. The transfer from Morehead State had six rebounds and four of the Tigers’ 10 blocked shots.
Returning big man Dylan Cardwell had nine rebounds and five blocks.
Ronald Polite III led George Mason with 10 points, and Victor Bailey Jr. had nine. Josh Oduro, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season, had eight points and played most of the second half in foul trouble.
The Patriots hit their last five shots of the first half to trim an 18-point deficit to 31-24 by halftime. They closed on a 13-2 run that started with three straight 3-pointers after missing their first seven attempts and cut it to six early in the second half but couldn’t keep it close.
George Mason: Opened a season on the road for the first time since 2008. … Got outrebounded 48-37. … Beat Maryland and Georgia on the road last season but couldn’t overcome another Power Five team.
Auburn: Shot just 4 of 25 on 3-pointers (16%), including Johnson’s 2-of-9 performance. … The Tigers have won all nine openers under Pearl. They’ve won 39 straight non-conference games at home.
George Mason hosts Longmont on Friday night.
Auburn hosts South Florida on Friday night and plays its first four games at Neville Arena.
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