JSU is still looking.
Guard Chris Denson led three Tigers in double figures with 15 points, and they rebounded from an embarrassing defensive show by holding JSU to 34.6 percent shooting en route to a 78-54 victory.
For Auburn (2-1), Tuesday’s performance was redemption after giving up 72 second-half points en route to a 111-92 loss to Northwestern State.
“I was happy with our defense tonight,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “A little more attention to detail on the defensive end of the floor. That’s all we did for the last two days, and it showed.”
For winless JSU (0-5), Tuesday’s performance served of evidence that the losses are mounting on its confidence.
The Gamecocks were “physically bad, mentally bad, no energy, no detail,” JSU coach James Green said. “Falling behind in games will kill your confidence right away, and it looked like that happened to us.”
Auburn’s shooting dipped as low as 20 percent from the floor in the first half, and the Gamecocks didn’t reach double figures until Michael Louder’s layup brought them within 21-10 at 6:25 of the first half.
JSU shot 29.6 percent in the first half.
Auburn, which also got 14 points from K.T. Harrell and 10 from Malcolm Canada, outscored JSU 44-24 in the paint, 26-12 on second-chance points, 23-11 off of only 14 Gamecock turnovers and 32-18 off the bench.
Auburn outrebounded JSU 47-33.
It all started with Auburn wanting to prove something on defense and using JSU’s misses to get out on transition.
“It was a lot better than last game,” Harrell said. “I think we scrambled, we communicated at a high level, and that’s what we were working in practice before the game.
“You always want to bounce back, especially when we play at home. I think coach did a great job of motivating us to not lose at home again.”
JSU just wants to win -- anywhere.
The Gamecocks opened with losses at Bradley, Illinois and Chicago State then lost to Alabama State at home Saturday. Confidence is becoming an issue.
“We’ve got people that hold their heads down when we get down,” said forward D.J. Felder, JSU’s lone bright spot with 16 points and 12 rebounds. “You can tell their moods when we’re losing and stuff like that.
“That’s natural for that to happen, but, for me to be a leader on this team, I’ve got to keep us out of that mood.”
Green said the Gamecocks have more talent than at any point in his six years at JSU, too much to be 0-5.
“If you’ve got better talent, you ought to be better, unless coaching is the problem,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching and getting this group tied together, with an understanding of what it takes to play.
“I think we’re in a state of shock, probably from Chicago State, Alabama State and this game, because I think we all thought we’d be better at this point than where we are. When that happens, sometimes you start pressing.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jmedley_star.