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About Last Night: Auburn 88, Xavier 79

Just a stepping stone win as we set our sights on #1

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Auburn Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

You ready to play the #1 team in the land in BOTH football and basketball this week?

Not sure it’s every been done, I don’t even know if there’s that kind of data available, but it’s one heck of a chance for Auburn.

Both teams seem unbeatable, but tonight way out in Maui, the Tigers have an opportunity to deck the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils. This comes after a gritty...

No, different gritty.

...hard-fought victory over Xavier in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

Auburn trailed 17-16 in the first half, surged forward, and never trailed again, but the Musketeers made the Tigers absolutely work for it. Never could Auburn hit that dagger bucket that would allow them to pull away for the comfortable win, even though their lead hit the double-digit margin in both the first and second halves. Xavier’s tough, and was able to get to a the foul line a bunch of times.

Austin Wiley didn’t have a good game. 11 points, 0 rebounds, and he fouled out.

Anfernee McLemore didn’t have a good game save for one stretch in the second half. 6 points, 4 rebounds, and he fouled out.

Auburn’s early-season star Chuma Okeke didn’t have a good game by this season’s standard. He got 13 points, 7 rebounds, and fouled out.

The Auburn frontcourt took a huge hit, and had to depend on Horace Spencer off the bench. He filled in fantastically, and if not for the 51 combined points by Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, he’s likely the player of the game. He only had 2 points and 5 rebounds, but his defense was outstanding after Xavier had been getting to the free throw line in spades.

11-35. That was the number from three for Auburn.

42-35. That’s the rebounding margin in favor of Xavier, not the Tigers.

Those two numbers would suggest that Auburn got worked, but the Tigers outscored Xavier 31-10 in points off of turnovers. Auburn turned those 22 opportunities into production and didn’t really miss much when asked to take a shot in transition.

And then there was Jared Harper.

Remember Mustapha Heron’s dunk last year against Georgia?

This is better.

Between Harper and Brown, Auburn got 51 points, and it didn’t even seem like those two had all that great of an afternoon.

And while the football team has a huge game they’re working toward on Saturday, they took a little time to cheer on their fellow Tigers yesterday.

So, tonight. 7 pm CST. #8 Auburn vs #1 Duke.

We’ll get you started in just a little bit with the word from the Duke side. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. It’s uncharted territory for the Tigers. War Eagle!