Auburn downs Vanderbilt to continue streak
Since the 2010 opening of Auburn Arena, Vanderbilt has seen it as a kind of home away from home. The Commodores defeated Auburn eight times in eight games in the new arena. Auburn's losing streak stretches back into the Beard-Eaves days, where Vandy took the last five games held there as well. In total, Vanderbilt had defeated Auburn 13 straight times headed into Saturday's game. But this season has been filled with the ending of streaks.
Even for one of the best shooting teams in the SEC, Auburn was on a different level Saturday night. Auburn hit a season-high 17 three pointers and shot 65 percent from the floor. Bryce Brown and Mustapha Heron combined for 48 points to lead the Tigers. Both players had incredible hot streaks during the course of the game.
Just as Heron finished his run of 13 straight points, Brown began his. Brown scored 15 straight, including a circus 4 point play that caused an eruption from the crowd. After the game, Vanderbilt's head coach was in disbelief at the performance he'd just witnessed.
"That's as good a shooting exhibition as I've seen," Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. "That includes all my years in the NBA too."
Jared Harper also continued his turnaround season with perhaps his best performance to date. His shooting stats, going 4-of-8 for 14 points, was typical for this season, but the 14 assists registered against Vanderbilt was a career best. Harper went into the offseason wanting to work on being a facilitator and that work has clearly paid off.
Against Vanderbilt, Auburn was able to buck their trend of slow starts in home games. Games against Ole Miss and Georgia saw Auburn give double digit leads to inferior teams, only to dominate the second half of play en route to wins. Against Vandy, Auburn raced out to a 22 point lead in the first half. In the second period, Auburn's lead dwindled to as little as nine but Vanderbilt was never able to draw closer.
Saturday was a rough day for college basketball's blue bloods with Duke, Kansas and Kentucky all falling on the same day. After Auburn's 12 point victory, they jumped from 11th to 8th, marking Auburn's first trip into the top ten in 18 years.
Up next for Auburn: Texas A&M. The Aggies were a top five team at one point in time this season but early struggles in SEC play sunk them into a hole. In conference play, the Aggies are just 4-6, compared to non conference play where Texas A&M went 11-2. Their two non conference losses were to Kansas and Arizona. Auburn will play Texas A&M Wednesday night at Auburn Arena.