Auburn saw a 12-point final minute lead whittled down to just 3 points late, gave up 65 points to Murray State’s big three, and had to come back from a second-half deficit, but the Tigers earned a tough 93-88 win over the Racers at Auburn Arena today.
All five starters scored in double digits for Auburn, as Bruce Pearl went with a new starting lineups that included Austin Wiley in place of Anfernee McLemore. The move paid off as Wiley finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds in his first start in nearly 700 days.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead out of the gate, with Wiley capping the run on a putback that forced Murray State coach Matt McMahon to call a timeout barely 90 seconds into the game. Out of that stoppage, Bruce Pearl began to experiment with the lineup, and took out Wiley, Chuma Okeke, and Jared Harper in favor of the subs. Murray State and star guard Ja Morant took advantage, tying the game at 19 quickly. The Racers jumped out to 26-21 lead that dried up quickly once Bryce Brown found his shot and hit a three that he followed with a dunk. Auburn led just 38-35 at halftime after a late dunk by Shaq Buchanan cut the lead to one possession.
Out of halftime, Murray State took advantage and built their largest lead of the game at 54-48 after Darnell Cowart’s bucket with 15:56 to play, but Auburn responded. Buckets by Wiley, Harper, and then two straight scores from Samir Doughty gave the Tigers a 57-56 lead, but it was Harper’s three-pointer with 13:10 to play that gave Auburn a lead it would never relinquish.
Over the next five minutes, Auburn extended the margin to 14 points at 76-62, and took a 12-point lead into the final minute. However, Murray State got threes from Tevin Brown and Buchanan before Buchanan threw down a lob from Morant, and Auburn’s lead got trimmed to just three points with :24 left. Thankfully, Jared Harper hit two key free throws, and Murray’s final shots fell off the rim to give the Tigers a 93-88 win.
Each of Auburn’s scorers hit double figures, led by Samir Doughty with 20 points. Other than that, Austin Wiley and Chuma Okeke each added 17, while Jared Harper scored 12 and Bryce Brown notched 11 points. Overall, Auburn shot 54% from the floor and hit 13-33 three-pointers, while Murray State shot 50% overall and 44% from the perimeter. Ja Morant led all scorers with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, and he got big efforts from Tevin Brown (19 points) and Shaq Buchanan (21 points).
With the win, the Tigers improve to 10-2 overall, and have a week until their next game, which will be the final non-conference matchup of the season. North Florida visits Auburn Arena next Saturday at 4 pm CST.