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Tip-Off Countdown: #39 Auburn 64 Vanderbilt 53

The Curse of Memorial Gym is OVER!!!

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

February 16, 2019 - Memorial Gym: Nashville

This one has a special place in my heart for two reasons:

First off, we broke a really long losing streak in this building. Auburn entered the day having lost 10 games in a row at Vanderbilt. Their previous win came 19 years to the day: February 16, 2000, a 86-80 win for Auburn.

Secondly, I made the trip to Nashville for this game not knowing that I would be moving there 7 months later. So it was awesome to witness the game Auburn broke a long losing streak inside Memorial Gym.

There was quite an Auburn presence in the building for this one and despite it being a road game for Auburn, the crowd was pretty close to 50/50.

I know people think Memorial Gym is awful and it’s not my favorite place to watch a game, BUT it’s nowhere close to my least favorite gym out there. They could do away with the benches on the baseline though but as a whole, it’s not as bad as many people say it is.

This was a MUST win game for Auburn as Vandy came into this one winless in league play and were heading towards a dubious winless season in the SEC.

It was a very slow and sloppy start for both teams on this rainy morning in Nashville. There were a lot of bricks thrown up by both teams. Auburn made 3 shots in the game’s first 10 minutes, all 3-pointers courtesy of Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke. Danjel Purifoy provided Auburn their first 2-point basket at the 10:02 mark of the half and a 13-10 lead.

With the Tigers down 22-20 with 3 minutes left in the half, the offensive struggles had continued to persist after being held to just 55 points against Ole Miss in the previous game.

Insert #ClassicMalik.

Dunbar would knock down a 3 and then get a steak and fastbreak dunk to put the Tigers back in front as the team led 27-23 at halftime. Auburn led despite shooting just 6-24 overall from the field.

One of the games turning points came about 5 minutes into the second half. Auburn led 34-31 and Vandy was racing towards the basket about to get an easy basket. But not on Malik’s watch..... #ClassicMalik.

Moments later, Jared Harper would knock down 2 3-pointers in 40 seconds and suddenly, Auburn led 40-31 with 13 minutes left. But Auburn couldn’t ever completely shake Vandy and run away with it as Auburn’s lead would stay around 5-8 for most of the 2nd half.

Vanderbilt cut it to 4, 53-49, with 4:45 to go but Auburn would get back to back layups from Horace Spencer after a beautiful pass from Chuma Okeke and then a steal by Bryce Brown and pass to Jared Harper would set up Malik Dunbar for a layup to make 57-49. With less than 2 minutes to go, Vandy would cut it back to 4 but as he had all game, Malik stepped up to knock down a 3-pointer, the dagger, and Auburn got out of Nashville with an 11-point win.

Jared Harper led Auburn in scoring with 16 points along with 8 assists. Bryce Brown scored 14 with Malik Dunbar scoring 13 points in a season-high 30 minutes and making several big plays on both sides of the floor. Chuma Okeke also had 13 points, along with 6 rebounds.

And while it wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, Auburn got a ROAD SEC victory. One other thing I will mention before we conclude this today was after the game, the team stayed out on the floor and greeted the large Auburn contingent, taking pictures, and making memories for people young and old. It was a great gesture and it’s one of the many reasons that I love this team so much.

Here are the highlights!