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Tigers Handed First Loss by Temple 88-74

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Auburn falls in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Auburn vs Missouri Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Temple’s hot second-half shooting was too much for Auburn to overcome, and the Tigers drop their first game of the season in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic, 88-74.

After leading by 21 points yesterday at halftime over Indiana State, the Tigers had much less cushion today thanks to a poor shooting performance in the first twenty minutes. Auburn hit on just 24% of its shots in the first half (10-41) and went just 3-18 from three as they trailed 32-31 at the break. Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown combined for just 1-9 shooting from downtown before halftime, and Anfernee McLemore led Auburn with nine points at the break.

Auburn picked up the pace a bit more in the second half, but so did Temple. You’d expect that an improvement in all categories after halftime would have closed the gap, but Temple’s shooting increased even more. Auburn shot 55% in the second half from the floor, and nearly 40% from three, but Temple shot over 60% in both areas in building a double-digit lead with 2:32 left to play in the game.

The Tigers had pulled within three on a Heron three-pointer to make it 70-67 in favor of the Owls, but then Temple ripped off a 10-2 run that included two Quinton Rose threes as they built a lead that Auburn could not erase.

Bruce Pearl’s team had less turnovers, more rebounds, more second-chance points, more bench points, more points in the paint, more blocks, and more steals, but the shooting percentages were too big a hurdle to overcome.

Anfernee McLemore led Auburn in scoring with 19 points, and he added seven rebounds on the day. Desean Murray had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and three other players hit double figures as well. Temple was led in scoring by Quinton Rose and Obi Enechionyia, who each hit the 19-point mark.

Auburn falls to 2-1 on the year, and they’ll wait to play again on Sunday at 6 pm CST against the loser of the Clemson/Hofstra game.