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Auburn's goal entering Wednesday's game at Georgia, coach Bruce Pearl said, was "simply to see if we can’t start winning some games and playing better basketball."

The Tigers certainly did the latter, setting a new season-high in points in regulation on 56.5 percent shooting. That led to the former, a 95-77 drubbing of the Bulldogs for their first SEC victory of the season.

"A lot of smiles, not much celebration," point guard Sharife Cooper said. "You know, we expect to win even if we don’t win. We’re trying to extend the culture that was built here and that’s winning. So, we’re trying to carry on that legacy and be a winning team."

Here are three things we learned:

1. Sharife Cooper’s stellar debut wasn’t a one-time thing

The 26 points, nine assists and four rebounds the five-star freshman point guard erupted for against Alabama weren’t just the result of excitement over finally getting to play after having to sit the first 11 games.

In fact, that might have been Cooper’s floor.

Cooper set a new career-high with 28 points on 9-for-22 shooting (10 of 12 from the free throw line). He recorded 12 assists in the first double-double of his career, coming up only four short of J’Von McCormick’s single-game record 16. He also chipped in five rebounds and two steals.

The freshman’s court vision was exceptional. He found shooters positioned beyond the arc, threw alley-oops in half-court sets and set up teammates with long passes on the break. He helped Auburn put six players in double figures and score 95 points despite the team making just 5 of 20 3-pointers.

“Sharife Cooper was the best player on the court," Pearl said. "If you're open, he's going to find you. He's going to give you easy ones."

About the only thing he's not doing well is shooting from beyond the arc – he went 0-for-4 Wednesday and is 1-for-11 overall. Everything else has been as advertised through two games.

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"A major difference. Like, that's what we've been waiting for is a true point guard," said guard Devan Cambridge, who scored 14 points. "He makes me look 10 times better, and he's going to find everybody. He's very unselfish."

2. Auburn is capable of getting off to a good start

That wasn’t clear through the first four SEC games. The Tigers (7-6, 1-4 SEC) trailed at the half in three of them and fell down by double digits at some point during the first 20 minutes in all of them.

But against Georgia (7-4, 0-4), finally, Auburn didn’t have to dig out of a hole. In fact, it was the opposite – the Tigers built an early cushion on the road, leading by as many as 16 points before taking a 45-34 advantage into the break. And that was just the beginning of the onslaught.

3. Everybody wants in on the block party

After blocking a season-high 10 shots against Alabama, the Tigers blocked 14 against Georgia. That’s the most any team has totaled in a game this season nationally.

That effort helped the visitors hold the Bulldogs to just a 42.1% shooting mark inside the arc. And even when they did get to the free throw line, they didn’t take advantage, making just 17 of 34 free throws.

Cambridge and Jaylin Williams led the way with five each, and Babatunde Akingbola added two.

"I thought we used our length and did a good job of helping each other," Pearl said. "That was huge."

Auburn returns to action Saturday against Kentucky at home.

This article originally ran on annistonstar.com.

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