AMES, Iowa – Auburn flunked its first real test of the season.
Chris Denson scored 27 points, but the Tigers struggled to contain No. 17 Iowa State in a 99-70 loss on Monday night.
"We weren't very disciplined on the defensive end," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "We've got to start making shots when we get open looks."
KT Harrell had 19 points for the Tigers (4-2), who shot 35.5 percent from the field and were outrebounded 47-36.
Auburn (4-2) trailed by as many as 35 in the program's first non-conference road game against a ranked opponent since the 1985-86 season.
Dustin Hogue set career highs with 22 points and 16 rebounds for Iowa State (6-0), which is the Big 12's last unbeaten team. Melvin Ejim added 14 points and 10 boards for his 23rd career double-double.
Iowa State used a 27-5 run midway through the first half to build a 15-point lead and cruised to its fourth win by at least 29 points.
Auburn had just seven assists on 22 field goals while Iowa State had 28 on 33 made baskets. The Tigers also had 14 turnovers and got just a dozen points from their reserves.
"They made the extra passes and had two or three guys open on the perimeter," Barbee said. "They find these kinds of shots and they are great at knocking those shots down."
Auburn won four of its first five games, a stretch that included a 19-point loss to Northwestern State.
But this was the first time the Tigers played a high-major opponent — and they soon realized they were taking on a different level.
Iowa State, which entered play averaging a shade over 10 3-pointers a game, missed their first eight as Auburn took an early seven-point lead. But once freshman Matt Thomas got the Cyclones going with a 3, they rolled right past the Tigers as if Auburn was a low-major program in town for a payday.
Monte Morris banked in a 3 to make it 30-17, and Auburn put up little resistance from there.
It doesn't get any easier for the Tigers either. They face Illinois, Clemson and Boston College before Christmas.
"We got out to a good start, but we went cold," Barbee said. "It's not what you do on offense. It's what you do on defense that wins games. We let our inability to make shots and inability to make open 3-pointers affect what we did on defense."
The Cyclones have a lot of options on both ends of the floor.
On Monday, they leaned on Hogue to lead them past the Tigers.
Hogue had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first 11½ minutes, keying that huge Cyclones run that put them ahead 32-17 with 5:57 left in the first half.
Hogue hit 6 of 7 shots in the first 20 minutes in leading Iowa State to a 47-28 lead. He also matched Auburn with four offensive rebounds in the first half.
"That was a big concern for me, that we wouldn't be able to rebound with them and keep them off the offensive glass and we weren't able to," Barbee said.