December 22, 2018 - Auburn Arena
So yesterday we talked about the UAB game and walking out of there that night, I had a bad feeling about Auburn’s next game on the schedule, a road game at North Carolina State. It was a tough night as the Tigers suffered their 2nd defeat of the season (which I traveled for). There was no rest though as Auburn returned home 3 days later to play a really good Murray State team led by one of my favorite (non-Auburn) college players, Ja Morant. The Racers came into Auburn 8-1, their only loss coming at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.
Chuma Okeke and Samir Doughty each knocked down a 3 and Austin Wiley fast-break dunk got the Tigers off to an early 8-0 lead 90 seconds into the game, forcing a Racers timeout. The Racers settled down and midway through the first half, had taken a 5 point lead, 24-19.
After missing a 3-pointer, Chuma Okeke got his own missed and followed up with a dunk starting a run for Auburn. Bryce Brown would get in the scoring column with a 3 moments later and his dunk on the next possession tied the game up at 26.
Coming out of the Under 8 timeout, Chuma Okeke would come up with steals on back to back Racer possessions and Austin Wiley would convert those opportunities for points capping off an 11-2 run and the Tigers led 30-26. Brown’s 2nd 3 of the game with 33 seconds left in the half provided the margin as Auburn led 38-35 at halftime.
The teams traded the lead early in the 2nd half but Murray State would take a 6 point lead 3:20 into the half at 54-48. Auburn would score on their next 4 possessions, capped off by a 3-pointer from Samir Doughty to put Auburn back in front 57-56.
Murray would retake the lead but Jared Harper snatched it back with a 3 of his own and after a 3 from J’Von McCormick on the next possession, Auburn led 63-59.
After a 3 from Malik Dunbar, Anfernee McLemore, who had taken 2 charges would score 5 in a row, the first on a tip-in and then knocked down a 3 from the top of the key as Auburn took their first double digit lead of the game, 73-61 with 9:50 to go. Bryce Brown would hit another 3 but the Racers would cut the lead in the half before Wiley’s 3-point play but Auburn back up 10, 79-69 with 5:49 to go.
Okeke knocked down a pair of 3s in the final minutes and Samir Doughty capped off his best game as an Auburn Tiger with a layup and 4 free throws in the final 2 minutes. Auburn had this game in control with a minute to go but the Racers didn’t go quietly as a 9-0 charge in 30 seconds cut Auburn’s lead to 91-88. Jared Harper would close it out knocking down 2 free throws and the Tigers escaped in a valiant effort from the Racers.
As for Ja Morant, he posted his usual scoring numbers, leading all scorers with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists and while he got help from his teammates, Auburn had 5 players in double figures.
Samir Doughty had a season-high 20 points to lead Auburn. Austin Wiley had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Chuma Okeke also had 17 points, along with 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Jared Harper added 12 points and 10 assists with Bryce Brown scoring 11 points.
This was another non-conference win over a team that would make the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, the other coming against Washington.
Here are the highlights!