Auburn shot poorly from the perimeter for the second straight game, and sloppy play in general doomed the Tigers in Raleigh tonight as they fell to NC State 78-71.
The Tigers hit just 5-25 from three-point range, while the Wolfpack shot 46% from downtown, and Auburn couldn’t overcome a road atmosphere and tough defense in the end.
In the first ten minutes, Auburn scored just 6 points and fell behind by a dozen as NC State forced turnover after turnover on the defensive end. Braxton Beverly hit the double-digit mark for the Wolfpack early, as the threes were falling for the home team. On the other side, the Tigers failed to make a three-pointer in the first half. However, a 16-3 run by Auburn brought them close, and five straight points by Austin Wiley gave the Tigers their first lead at 26-25 with 2:52 left until halftime. Unfortunately, the Tigers gave up a 10-1 run before the break and fell behind 35-27 at the intermission.
After halftime, Auburn cut the lead to just 2 points by the first timeout, but NC State countered. The Wolfpack weren’t ever able to pull away, but Auburn was no threat to make a big run with the way the three-point shooting was going. Malik Dunbar made the Tigers’ first three 14:13 remaining in the game, and Auburn eventually tied the game at 47 before giving up a 10-2 run. The closest that the Tigers would get after that is 5 points, but they could’t string anything together to get nearer than that.
Overall, the Auburn starters scored just 28 points, with the bench coming on strong and getting 14 from J’Von McCormick, 13 from Austin Wiley, and 12 from Malik Dunbar. Bryce Brown and Anfernee McLemore combined for just 3 points, while NC State got 42 combined points from Markell Johnson and Braxton Beverly.
With the loss, Auburn falls to 9-2 overall, and will take on Murray State this coming Saturday at 3:30 at Auburn Arena.