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Auburn Fights off Late Run, Defeats Bulldogs in Auburn

Bryce Brown (2) scored a team-high 18 points in Auburn's 98-92 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday. (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)

Mississippi State used a strong second-half surge in hopes of knocking off Auburn at home, after being down by 20. However, the Bulldogs found themselves in foul trouble late, and Auburn (16-8, 5-6 in SEC) would hold on to win 98-92 on Tuesday inside Auburn Arena. Auburn achieved a 48-28 lead going into the locker room, with the bench contributing the most. In recent games, the Tigers have relied on Ronnie Johnson and Anfernee McLemore when it comes to bench production. Tuesday night, it was Bryce Brown who led the charge by scoring 12 of Auburn’s 29 first-half bench points. Right behind him, was senior TJ Lang. Lang ended the first half with 9 points, all from beyond the arc. Brown ended the night with 18 points, one point shy of his season high. After scoring 12 points against Alabama on Saturday, Brown explained following the game his strategy for getting over his “slump.” It all starts with his parents. “I’ve been in the gym working every day with the coaches and my dad. My mom even helps me. My dad passed the ball back and forth to me, and my mom just held up a big broom like she was contesting the shot, so I had to shoot over the shot, acting like it was a player blocking my shot.” Freshman center Austin Wiley was asked if he could shoot a ball over his mother, Auburn legend Vickie Orr, he simply said: “Probably not.” The Tigers seemed to slow their usual fast-paced style of play in the first half, which proved beneficial, as more players touched the ball, creating open looks. Auburn shot 16-33 from the field in the first, including 8-15 from the perimeter. Brown and Lang picking up seven of those buckets. The number of rebounds and assists also stood out, as Auburn out-rebounded the Bulldogs 21-17, and had 11 assists to only two from Mississippi State. Mississippi State made quality adjustments, and it showed heading into the second half of play. Auburn, who shot 8-15 from three-point territory, went 1-7 in the second half. Mississippi State also outscored the Tigers 64-50. Perimeter shooting defense improved from one-half to the next, however, Mississippi State coach Ben Howland wanted to stop more than one aspect of the Tigers’ success. “They (Auburn) had 46 points in the paint. They also scored 26 points off turnovers. When you look at our stats, we had 13 turnovers. Every time we turned it over, they scored. Those are huge stats.” Mississippi State was able to limit points off turnovers from 18 to 8, but Auburn still found a way to score inside, as they posted 30 paint points in the final 20 minutes. All-in-all, four Tigers reached double-digits, the team ended the game with 22 assists and 38 rebounds. Those numbers were good enough for Coach Bruce Pearl, who appreciated what his team was able to do in sharing the ball. He does hope to improve defensively moving forward. “We have got to go to Ole Miss on Saturday. They came in here and hit us in the mouth pretty good. I think our kids are excited to go out there and play them again.” Auburn battles Ole Miss on Saturday at 5 P.M. inside The Pavilion.

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