Auburn finally got to see the Anfernee McLemore of last year, and it looked really, really good.
McLemore keyed a run midway through the first half that put Auburn in front for good, and he finished with 15 points on 7-10 shooting in his breakout game. It seemed like Anfernee was still working to get back to last season’s form, but it had’t clicked until today in Auburn’s 93-78 win. With the victory, the Tigers are 1-1 in SEC play, while Georgia falls to 1-2 in the league.
Trailing 26-22 with 10 minutes to play in the first half, Auburn brought McLemore into the game, and his first basket pulled the Tigers within a 26-24 margin. He made five baskets and a free throw before halftime, with his final score giving Auburn a 45-35 lead. Auburn would head into the intermission ahead 48-38 after shooting 51% from the floor and scoring 28 of their 48 first-half points in the paint.
After halftime, the Tigers continued to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length. Georgia cut the lead to just 6 points on a Treshaun Hightower three-pointer with 17:05 to play, but three straight scores from Auburn (Jared Harper layup, McLemore layup, Harper three) pushed the lead to 13 points, and Georgia would never come back within single-digits. A Bryce Brown three put Auburn up by 15 at 74-59 with 11:21 to play, and then two dunks in a row by Malik Dunbar and Chuma Okeke closed the door on the Bulldogs down the stretch. Auburn closed the door in the final minutes with the emotional momentum to get their first SEC win.
Auburn’s now 12-3 overall with the victory, thanks in part to a huge 22-point effort from Jared Harper, who got the Tigers started with two quick threes. Bryce Brown had a very quiet 15 points, while both Malik Dunbar and Samir Doughty added 11 points apiece, but it was McLemore’s effort and comeback splash that made the biggest impact on the day.
The Tigers will next head to College Station to play a Texas A&M team that beat Alabama today on a buzzer beater. The Aggies are 7-7, and will host Auburn on Wednesday at 6 pm CST. War Eagle!