If you wanted an easy game after the win over NC State on Thursday, then playing a talented and scrappy Lehigh squad wasn’t on the menu. For about 30 minutes tonight, Auburn fans were wringing hands and wondering if there were any better teams on the non-conference schedule, but the Tigers ended up winning 74-51 to stay perfect on the year. Auburn’s 11-0 record is the best among Power Five teams, and the Tigers will carry that perfect record through the holiday before a date with Lipscomb next weekend.
J’Von McCormick led the second half charge in a difficult game, where Auburn couldn’t seem to find the rhythm and range from deep. In one sequence in the second half, the Tigers’ point guard hit three consecutive threes, and followed that up with an alley-oop layup for 11 straight points that opened up the game. McCormick finished with 18 points on the night to lead all scorers, and his effort worked in concert with Austin Wiley’s career rebounding night to give Auburn a win.
The first half was an exercise in futility for both teams offensively, but Auburn was able to clamp down on defense after an exceptionally slow start. With the Tigers not being quite the offensive team they were last season, the defense has become an asset to keep Auburn in every game, and tonight was no difference. In the final seven minutes of the half, Auburn held Lehigh scoreless and went on a 14-0 run to take a 27-20 lead at the break.
In the second half, Auburn was able to keep Lehigh at distance, but never found a way to separate. The main reason for the close game was the disparity from distance, where Auburn was just 2-13 in the first half. After halftime, the Tigers were 4-15, with three of those coming on consecutive possessions by McCormick. After that flurry, Auburn started to turn it on, including highlight dunks by Danjel Purifoy and Devan Cambridge —
My goodness. @KingMcCormick_5 OFF THE GLASS to @DevanCambridge! #WarEagle pic.twitter.com/gqTogyvmZo— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) December 22, 2019
— and the game was in good hands.
What should have been an easy win from the start proved to be another learning opportunity for Bruce Pearl and company, and Auburn improved in the win column while also learning a few lessons about themselves. The 74-51 win wasn’t nearly as much of a blowout as you’d be led to believe, and Lehigh was a tough opponent for 3⁄4 of the game.
While McCormick scored 18 points, Austin Wiley notched 14 points and a career high 15 rebounds, but no other Tigers finished in double figures. Auburn shot 42% on the night, but just 6-28 from three. However, we did see improvement in the foul shooting realm, as the Tigers went 22-28 from the free throw line.
OH. AND SON OF CROW WAS THE CELEBRITY ‘N’ TONIGHT.
N must be for No one else in town lol this is so rad. pic.twitter.com/mAcenkGsMR— Son of Crow (@SonOfCrow2) December 22, 2019
Anyway, Auburn takes over a week off for the Christmas holiday before taking on Lipscomb next Sunday, December 29th at 3 PM. The Tigers are still one of four undefeated teams left in the country, and the only undefeated team remaining in the Power Five conferences. War Eagle!