Jared Harper may be small, but he contains multitudes.
The Auburn point guard set a career high in points tonight in Birmingham as Auburn slipped past UAB 75-71 in overtime. Harper poured in 31 points, including a 15-16 night from the free throw line as he completely took over the game down the stretch.
Auburn was absolutely cold from three-point range, while UAB hit an uncharacteristic number of shots from the perimeter, and a sloppy game overshadowed the return of Danjel Purifory, who finished with just 2 points.
In the first half, Auburn took a 7-2 lead out of the gate, but fell behind quickly thanks to poor ball-handling and cold shooting. UAB battled back from that and took a 4-point lead twice down the stretch of the first half before Jared Harper hit a three-pointer with :31 remaining before halftime to give the Tigers a 28-27 edge at the break. In the first half, Auburn shot just 35% and hit 3-11 threes.
After the break, Auburn went ice cold and UAB built a 7-point lead midway through the second half. Jared Harper’s layup with 9:23 to play tied the game at 47, and free throws from Harper helped put the Tigers up 60-54 with 1:15 to go. However, UAB hit three tough three-pointers down the stretch and tied the game at 63 to take us into overtime.
In the extra period, though, Harper was the primary ball-handler and scored 10 of Auburn’s 12 overtime points, icing the 75-71 for the Tigers with his effort at the foul line. Overall, the Tigers hit just 4-22 three-pointers and shot just 39% from the floor, while UAB hit 44%. Chuma Okeke was the only other double-digit scorer with 11 points, and the team aside from Harper hit just 2-16 threes.
With the victory, Auburn improves to 9-1 on the year with a road trip to NC State coming this Wednesday. That game will tip off at 6 pm CST on ESPN2.