AUBURN, Ala. (AP) KT Harrell tied a season-high with 25 points and Cinmeon Bowers chipped in 20 points and 11 rebounds as Auburn staved off North Alabama 82-61 on Saturday for its fifth straight home win.
The Tigers (8-5) closed nonconference play with a victory, but were forced to battle back after trailing by as many as nine early in the first half.
Despite the victory, head coach Bruce Pearl said he was disappointed with the effort of his team at times.
''We're not good enough for me to have to coach effort,'' Pearl said. ''Tonight, I had to. That's something that we have to address.''
Harrell, the SEC's second-leading scorer, paced the Tigers in the first half, scoring 13 points and making three 3-pointers. Auburn led 32-30 at the break.
''They were smaller than us,'' Harrell said. ''I'm always looking for the 3-ball if I have it, but at certain times you have to look at what you got and get in the paint.''
Marcus Landry, the leading rebounder for the Lions (5-6), picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, and the Tigers took advantage, outscoring North Alabama 44-32 in the paint.
Antoine Mason came on strong in the second half, scoring 15 of his 18 points to close out the win despite missing all five of his 3-point attempts.
''(Mason) didn't shoot it very well in the first half at all, so one of the things he started to do was put the 3-ball away, and he got the shot fake and into his midrange game a little bit,'' Pearl said.
Landry finished with 12 points and three rebounds before fouling out. Point guard Nathan Spehr contributed 17 points and three 3-pointers in the loss.
Harrell eclipsed 20 points for the seventh time this season. Bowers' double-double was the eighth of his Auburn career.
North Alabama: The Lions were outrebounded 43-32. UNA came into matchup averaging 40.9 rebounds per game.
Auburn: With the win, the Tigers matched their nonconference win total from last season under former head coach Tony Barbee.
North Alabama returns home to play Mississippi College on Jan. 5.
Auburn will open SEC play at Vanderbilt on Jan. 6.