Auburn Sports Review: December 9
TJ Dunans takes a last second shot to defeat Mercer (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Sunday was a great day for Auburn Basketball. 7,997 spectators piled into Auburn Arena Sunday to watch a Basketball team that had just come off of an impressive 117-72 win over Coastal Carolina last Thursday, a game where the Tigers were successful on 21 three-point attempts, which tied a conference record. Freshman Danjel Purifoy had been an attraction over the last two games, scoring 27 in each contest. The main event, however, was the debut of freshman Austin Wiley. Wiley, who signed his letter of intent in November, became eligible to join the team last Friday after graduating from High School early. The 6-foot-11 center is predicted to make an impact early, as he adds height to a team that has struggled with rebounding in the early part of the season. Auburn got off to a rough start and ended the first half down by two to Mercer, a team that entered the game 1-4 away from home. Auburn fought back in the second half and created a two-point lead with just nine seconds to go. But, in a tough spot, Auburn was called for a goaltend with four seconds remaining to tie the game and give Mercer the opportunity to take the lead with a successful free-throw. Mercer succeeded. Auburn needed to find a way to score in order to win, but with 1.4 seconds remaining on the clock, hope was slowly diminishing. Following a timeout, Auburn’s Mustapha Heron found TJ Dunans on the near corner. Dunans sent a prayer to the basket, and it went through, giving Auburn the 76-74 win over the Mercer Bears, which was their eighth of the year. “I knew it was going in,” Dunans said following the game. “The way I shot, I knew that it was going in.” According to Coach Bruce Pearl, the play was designed to go to a different player. Due to busted coverage, the play was executed to near perfection. “The last play, Coach (Chuck) Persons drew it up. The play was for Jared (Harper) to set up a little baseline screen for Dunans to bring him to the corner, and then to come off a double pin down the top. The problem was Danjel (Purifoy) did not wait for Jared to get there, and he slipped down too soon. Jared curled and wasn’t open. So, really, Mustapha (Heron) did not have anyone to throw the ball to. So, he threw it to the tallest, next available player. That was Dunans in the corner.” Dunans, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, entered the game scoring 6 points a game off the bench and shot .105 from beyond the arc (2-of-19). Dunans seemed to get out of a rut on Sunday, by scoring 13 (2nd highest) and was 3-for-5 in three-point attempts.
Following the drama of the men’s game, the women brought swagger to their game with undefeated Virginia Tech on Sunday. Being down 61-52 heading into the fourth quarter, the Tigers fought back and scored 25 points in the final stanza to send the game to overtime, before falling to the Hokies, 92-87. Janiah McKay led the Tigers in scoring with 28, Brandy Montgomery and Katie Frerking also scored in double digits.
Photo: Janiah McKay (33) (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)