AUBURN — Saturday's game between Auburn and Georgia was moved up six hours from 5 p.m. to 11 a.m. with fewer than 24 hours notice because of the severe weather expected to arrive during the afternoon.
And for the first few minutes of the first half, the Tigers played like a team whose alarm clock rang much earlier than originally planned. Their halfcourt offense looked disjointed. They scored only six points through almost eight minutes. The Bulldogs led by eight early.
Slow starts have been the norm this season, though. The ability to quickly flip the switch and dominate teams has been, too.
After scoring just six of the game's first 22 points, No. 5 Auburn scored 29 of the next 35. Head coach Bruce Pearl thought Georgia might be his team's toughest test to date this season, and the Tigers nearly ran them out of the gym.
The final result was a 82-60 victory and a 15-0 start to the 2019-20 season. It's the first time Auburn has defeated Georgia by 20-plus points since Jan. 10, 1977.
"Great job by Auburn. No doubt about that. They are one of the deepest, toughest, incredibly well-coached groups in the country," Georgia coach Tom Crean said. "Auburn is a tremendous team. Not only one of the best in our league; obviously one of the best in the country. Any conversation that comes up in the next few months of 'Who could win it all?' should have Auburn in it."
Samir Doughty led the Tigers with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, and Anfernee McLemore and Allen Flanigan scored 12 each off the bench.
The Tigers are now just two wins shy of matching the best start in program history, which was 17-0 in 1998-99. They play at Alabama on Wednesday and at Florida next Saturday.
"We're going to get beat," Pearl said. "We're going to get beat. I would like not to lose. I'd like, when we do get beat, it's 'cause they take it to us. And, so, it hasn't happened yet."
Here are three takeaways from Auburn's most recent win:
1. There was no second-half letdown this time
Auburn's 83-79 win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday didn't need to be as close as it was. The Tigers led by 14 points with a little less than eight minutes to play in the second half and allowed the Commodores to come all the way back and tie things up with less than a minute to go.
There was no such letdown Saturday, though.
The sequence that perhaps best defined Auburn's dominance of its rival came as the game clock ticked below 10 minutes, right when Georgia star Anthony Edwards finally hit a 3 after an 0-for-6 start from deep.
It didn't look like that was going to be the start of any sort of furious comeback — the visitors still trailed by 19 — but the Tigers slammed the door shut anyway. McLemore, Isaac Okoro and Danjel Purifoy threw down transition dunks on back-to-back possessions, sending an already hyped-up crowd into a frenzy.
2. Anthony Edwards will be glad to never return to Auburn Arena
The matchup that received top billing going in this game was Auburn's Okoro versus Georgia's Edwards, who are both standout true freshmen from the Atlanta area who could very well be future NBA lottery picks.
Neither played his best game Saturday. Okoro scored only seven points on 3-for-8 shooting, but when it mattered, he won the matchup on defense.
Edwards eventually got going Saturday. He finished with a game-high 18 points. But he really struggled when the game was competitive — 12 of those points came during the final nine minutes of the second half, after the Tigers had already built a lead as large as 23 points.
At that point, Georgia's star freshman had made only 2 of 10 shots and 1 of 8 free throws.
Edwards finished the game shooting 6 of 15 after heating up late, but he was only 2 of 9 from 3-point range and 4 of 11 from the free throw line. He also had three rebounds, three assists, three fouls and three turnovers.
"They're both great players. Isaac impacts winning so much because he can do it on the offensive end, and he's willing to do it on the defensive end," Pearl said. "I really like Edwards. He's a hard worker. He's humble. He's hungry. He trains like a pro. Going to be a pro. And so I know our guys are excited about playing him and excited about playing Georgia."
3. Let Saturday be known as the Allen Flanigan game.
One of the things Pearl has harped on even through Auburn's torrid start to the season is needing some more scoring contributions from the bench.
All five starters entered Saturday's game averaging at least 9.8 points per game, and McLemore had done well averaging 7.6 points off the bench with a few double-digit efforts, but the scoring from the rest of the members of the nine-man rotation — Jamal Johnson, Allen Flanigan and Devan Cambridge — has been inconsistent.
On Saturday, though, the Tigers received their best effort yet from Flanigan, the true freshman son of assistant coach Wes Flanigan. The 6-foot-5 guard scored a career-high 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two steals.
"(Pearl) told me to be a lot more aggressive. He told me to get all the 50-50 balls, box out and get every rebound," Flanigan said. "It feels great, you know, for me to come off the bench and be very productive for the guys. And the guys, they kept on egging me on, giving me confidence."