Auburn and Bruce Pearl needed a big win after their last game. They got it in a true road win over a good Big XII team tonight in a dominating performance by the Tigers in Ft. Worth.
With every passing game, Austin Wiley continues to get better. That is scary for opposing teams. After a slow first half, he exploded in the second for a career-high 25 points. He was an epic force under the basket. I really thought TCU big man Vladimir Brodziansky would challenge him as the older and more experienced player, but that was not the case.
The Tigers jumped out to some leads in the first half, but iffy defense let the Horned Frogs stay around. Though they were horrible from beyond the arc, they were still able to hang around and go into the half in a close game.
In the second half, Auburn came out ready to play and really turned it on. The defense was fantastic for most of the second frame and Austin Wiley's explosion of points helped the Tigers get out to a 21 point lead. TCU had turnover issues - getting a season high of 18 - which greatly helped the Tigers, especially late.
The big lead struggles came back in the final 2-3 minutes, though as TCU cut the lead to 11 points with 1:30 to play in the game. TCU fought even harder with their backs against the wall and Auburn helped with a few bad shots, bad turnovers, and some missed free throws, as well.
The Tigers were able to close it out for the 88-80 victory, though, and do their part for the SEC in the Big XII / SEC Challenge.
Auburn's freshmen were on fire again. Danjel Purifoy has been struggling since his injury, but the Tigers are still doing some big things. Austin Wiley led the team with his 25 points and 7 rebounds. Mustapha Heron had 17 points and 6 rebounds, Jared Harper had 13 points, and Anfernee McLemore added 13, as well. TJ Dunans only finished with 4 points, but his impact on the game can't be understated. He was dishing the ball all around and was a large part of Auburn's 23 assists.
This game was exactly what Auburn needed. They'll take this back to Auburn to face Tennessee - who defeated Kansas State 70-58 in their Big XII game following their Kentucky upset - this Tuesday night at 7pm Central.