Fouls, cold shooting, and tough defense by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane were the story of the night in Las Vegas.
Fouls seemed to be the order of the night early on, as the Tigers were repeatedly called for fouls that were questionable at best. Meanwhile, Tulsa seemed to drain every shot they took from beyond the arc. 18 of their first 28 points were three point shots.
The Tigers struggled from the three point line after the opening shot of the game was a drained three by Tahj Shamsid-Deen. Auburn also suffered from yet another cold spell late in the second half as they failed to convert a basket in the final seven minutes of the first half. Auburn was 1-11 from beyond the 3 point line in the first half. The damage was mitigated by Tulsa failing to convert in the final four minutes of the half, themselves.
One bright spot for Auburn was Cinmeon Bowers, who had his fourth straight double-double wrapped up within moments of the second half beginning. According to the official Auburn basketball Twitter account, Bowers is the first Auburn player with four straight since Jeff Moore in 1987-88.
After Bowers picked up his double-double on a three-point play, the Tigers' shooting again went ice cold from the field until Jack Purchase drained a three with 15 minutes to go in the game. A quick turnover led to the Tigers bringing the game back within 10 points, but it was really too little, too late. The Tigers' cold spells were just too much for the team to overcome.
They didn't quit, but the lead Tulsa built was just too much for an Auburn team struggling to hit shots to come back from. The number of offensive charges Auburn was called for didn't help, either. Credit does go to Tulsa's defense for contesting pretty much every attempt by Auburn to drive the lane or take any shots.
Bruce Pearl's Tigers fall to 2-2 on the season. They will next face Oregon State at 6pm CDT on Wednesday night, who lost to Oklahoma State in the other half of the MGM Grand Main Event semifinal. The Tigers will need to find answers soon, as both road games have ended in disastrous results for Auburn.