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Tip-Off Countdown: #18 (14) Auburn 81 Furman 78 (OT)

The Tigers got all they wanted and more from Furman.

NCAA Basketball: Furman at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

December 5, 2019 - Auburn Arena

All roads do lead home. Auburn returned to Auburn Arena for the first time in 2 12 weeks to take on the Furman Paladins.

As for me personally, this was the first Auburn basketball game I attended as an Auburn alumni and it was definitely weird for me to not run in and go to my spot in the Jungle.

As for the game, let’s just say I got a whole lot more than I bargained for in this contest (plus a free 5 minutes).

There’s a lesson to be learned from this game if you are a team coming off of a Final Four appearance: You probably don’t want to schedule Furman.

During the 2018-2019 season, Furman knocked off Loyola-Chicago fresh off of their Final Four appearance. Last season, Furman came oh so close to doing the same to Auburn.

Auburn had a tough night shooting the 3, as they went 4-25 for the game from long range. Meanwhile the Paladins shot an Auburn-like 13-31 from 3-point range. Auburn also had 19 turnovers. So how in the world did they win this game?

Auburn had a huge advantage on the boards (+20) and free throws made (+10) and made some clutch baskets down the stretch to pull out the win.

Auburn made just one 3 in the 1st half, courtesy of Jamal Johnson, as Auburn led 17-15 halfway through the 1st. Auburn led by as much as 6 in the 1st half but the Paladins closed the 1st half on an 11-1 run and led Auburn 39-31 at halftime.

Things didn’t get much better to start the 2nd half either as Furman started the half on a 7-1 run and Auburn picked up a Technical foul. Furman led by 14, 46-32 with about 16 12 minutes to go.

But a 3-pointer from Anfernee McLemore stopped the run as the Tigers started to mount their comeback. An 8-0 run got Auburn with 3, 48-45 with 10 12 minutes to go but Auburn could never take the lead back.

Furman led 61-53 with 6 minutes to go before a 3 from Danjel Purifoy pulled Auburn with 5. And late in regulation, Auburn was finally able to get the ball to Austin Wiley and the big fella made some key plays down the stretch. A pair of buckets pulled Auburn to within 2 with 3 minutes left and then had a monster block on defense.

Auburn tied the game with a minute left but Furman got the lead back. As we would see later in the season, it was #VintageJVon time.

McCormick made both Auburn baskets in the final minute and came extremely close to a walk-off circus shot at the buzzer after Isaac Okoro had forced a Furman turnover with 5 seconds left.

Okoro would give Auburn their first lead since late in the 1st half with a layup to start overtime. Furman would another 3 to lead 69-68 but Austin Wiley came up big once again.

The sequence started a 7-0 run as Auburn took a 75-69 lead. Furman would get within 2 in the final minute but Samir Doughty’s bucket with 15 seconds left put Auburn ahead 79-75. Furman would hit a 3 to cut the lead down to 1 but Okoro made 2 free throws and Furman’s last gasp fell short but overall, it was an outstanding effort from Furman and a huge, albeit somewhat unexpected test for Auburn.

Okoro led the way for Auburn with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Austin Wiley had another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Samir Doughty also had 13 points. J’Von McCormick and Anfernee McLemore each had 9 points and Allen Flanigan scored 8.

Here are the highlights!