January 4, 2020 - Starkville, Mississippi
2019 will go down as the greatest year in Auburn Basketball history. The Tigers won the SEC Tournament and advanced to the program’s first Final Four. Then the 2019-2020 team went a perfect 12-0 in non-conference play to close out the year. But a new season was upon the Tigers as they tipped off in 2020, a trip to Starkville to take on Mississippi State.
Despite the 12-0 record, they didn’t get a lot of respect nationally from people. And to be fair, Auburn won a lot of close games during that 12-0 start and their best win was either against Richmond or North Carolina State.
The Tigers were ice cold to start this game as it took Auburn nearly 13 minutes for Auburn to reach double figures. Over that stretch, Auburn was 3-22 from the field and Mississippi State led 18-9. A 3-point play from Isaac Okoro would start a 9-0 run over the next 4 minutes and J’Von McCormick would start getting his patented teardrop floaters to fall. He would tie the game at 18 with less than 4 minutes left in the half.
What a beautiful teardrop floater from J’Von! pic.twitter.com/qhbwf4ZeJB— Jaylin Williams/Simpson Fan Account (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 6, 2020
McCormick would connect on 2 more floaters in the final 2 minutes of the half as an 8-2 run in the last 2 minutes gave Auburn a 29-24 lead at half despite shooting 0-11 from 3 in the half.
Auburn would continue to heat up to start the 2nd half as Isaac Okoro and J’Von McCormick would get Auburn off to a great 2nd half start:
Pretty Isaac Okoro reverse in transition. Ambidexterity as a finisher is a genuine positive for him pic.twitter.com/RYl7ZWgUIt— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) January 4, 2020
McCormick would steal in the inbounds pass and an easy layup gave Auburn a 33-24 lead. McCormick would knock down Auburn’s 1st 3-pointer of the game to put Auburn up 10 and then a great hustle play from Isaac Okoro would give Auburn a 12-point lead.
Isaac Okoro’s hustle and heart leads to a beautiful hook shot from Wiley! pic.twitter.com/hoZ0OldtDA— Jaylin Williams/Simpson Fan Account (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 6, 2020
The Bulldogs would go on an 11-3 run after Wiley’s basket to cut Auburn’s lead to 41-39 but every time Miss State made a run, J’Von McCormick had an answer. His jumper quieted The Hump with 12 minutes to go and made another 3 after the Bulldogs had once again cut it to 2 moments later.
While it was a career afternoon for J’Von, Danjel Purifoy also had some big moments in this game. Auburn led 48-46 with 10 minutes but it was Purifoy who would go on a personal 8-0 run.
Sometimes it just takes 1 3-pointer to go down to get going. Case in point right here with the start of an 8-0 Danjel run. pic.twitter.com/nNK3yZsgVz— Jaylin Williams/Simpson Fan Account (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 6, 2020
Purifoy would hit again from 3 on the next possession off a McCormick assist and then an offensive putback while falling out of bounds gave the Tigers a 56-46 lead with 8 minutes to go.
Mississippi State would get within 6 but Purifoy’s 3rd 3 of the half with 5 minutes to go put Auburn back up 9 and the Bulldogs would never get any closer.
Here’s another great play from J’Von off a broken alley-oop attempt as he outhustled the entire Bulldogs defense to get the loose ball and found his way into the paint to put Auburn back up 11.
J’Von tried more than once to throw the lob to Mac but McCormick didn’t give up on the play and this basket gave him his career-high in points. pic.twitter.com/37APfmutfO— Jaylin Williams/Simpson Fan Account (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 6, 2020
Auburn would finish the game making a dozen free throws over the final 3 minutes to win their SEC opener. The Tigers won the game despite shooting just 5-22 from 3-point range but had 42 points in the paint and shot 21-30 from the free throw line.
The starting lineup combined for all but 2 of Auburn’s points and were led by J’Von McCormick, who had a career high 28 points in this contest, including 20 in the 2nd half. He was 9-17 from the field and shot 8-11 from the free throw line. This game was definitely #VintageJVon.
Samir Doughty had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Isaac Okoro had 14 points and 8 rebounds. Danjel Purifoy had 11 points and 8 rebounds. Austin Wiley had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Here are the highlights!