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Tip-Off Countdown: #8 (17) Auburn 83 Ole Miss 82 (2OT)

Overtime was Auburn’s friend during the 2019-2020 season

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

January 28, 2020 - Oxford, Mississippi

Ah yes, the heartburn stretch of the season when the Tigers played in 4 Overtime games in a 5 game stretch (and won ALL 4 of them).

Auburn returned to SEC play after their win over Iowa State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. There was a lot of excitement in the air with Kentucky coming to Auburn Arena on Saturday, along with.... ESPN’s College Gameday. The show had announced that they were coming to town for the first time on the basketball side for the matchup against the Wildcats.

But before that game, the Tigers had to travel to Oxford to play Ole Miss, a team who was a thorn in Auburn’s side the previous season winning both meetings against Auburn.

The first 20 minutes of this game were disastrous from an Auburn perspective. They were held to just 20 points total shooting 6-28 from the field (21.4%), 1-12 from 3, 10 turnovers and just 1 assist. The lone 3 came from Anfernee McLemore in the final minute to try and give Auburn some life but the Rebels responded with a bucket to close the half as Ole Miss took advantage of Auburn’s struggles and led 37-20 at halftime.

Normally, I would put the following video at the end of the article but what Bruce said at halftime was too good to not put here. Bruce wasn’t changing the lineups based on how things were going. He was sticking with his boys and Bruce trusted the kids that they would get it figured out in the 2nd half, and boy did they!

Ole Miss scored the first 2 points of the half to make it 39-20 but then Auburn went on a 10-0 run to cut the Ole Miss lead in half. Isaac Okoro knocked down a 3-pointer to get it started and Anfernee McLemore’s 2nd 3 pulled Auburn within 9.

But Ole Miss responded with a 9-1 run to put us right back where we started the 2nd half, in a 17-point hole. It was 48-31 Rebels with about 12 12 minutes to go and I honestly began to think that maybe this wasn’t going to be Auburn’s night.

But someone flipped a switch.......

Isaac Okoro converted a 3-point play, Samir Doughty converted a 3-point play, and then McLemore knocked down back to back 3-pointers and suddenly, Auburn had cut the 17 point deficit down to 5, 48-43 in about 2 minutes time. Game on!

One other key aspect of Auburn’s comeback: they got leading scorer Breein Tyree in foul trouble. Ole Miss was able to regain a 10 point lead but Tyree fouled out with 5:15 to go and that opened the door even wider for Auburn. Auburn trailed 63-54 at this point.

Auburn went on an 8-0 run over the next couple minutes to get within 1, 63-62, and J’Von McCormick tied the game at 64 in #VintageJvon fashion, overcoming a lot of contact and making a tough shot in the paint, with just over 2 minutes to go.

Samir Doughty would put Auburn ahead by 2 with 51 seconds to go and then Ole Miss would go 2-2 at the free throw line with 30 seconds left. Okoro had a chance to win the game in regulation but his 3 was off and we heading to (the first) Overtime tied at 66!

Things looked good during most of that overtime as Auburn got 3-pointers from Danjel Purifoy and McLemore, his 5th of the night, to put Auburn ahead 74-69 with less than 2 minutes to go. But like Auburn had battled back in the 2nd half, Ole Miss did the same and the game was tied at 77 in the closing seconds of overtime. Both teams had a chance to win it but neither could so we went to a second overtime.

Ole Miss scored 5 of the first 6 points of the Second OT to take an 82-78 lead but wouldn’t score over the final 3 minutes.

J’Von McCormick would knock down a 20 footer to pull within 2 and then Isaac Okoro provided another signature moment of his incredible freshmen season.

Isaac Okoro’s 3-point play was the game winner as neither team scored again. Ole Miss had a 3 in the closing seconds to win but it fell off the rim and the loose ball went out of bounds as the clock expired and the Tigers overcame a 19-point 2nd half deficit, to win at Ole Miss.

Anfernee McLemore was Auburn’s leading scorer as he tied his career high with 19 points and shot 5-10 from 3-point range. McLemore made 5 of Auburn’s 9 3s on the evening. After both Samir Doughty and Isaac Okoro were scoreless in the 1st half, Samir finished with 17 points and Isaac had 14 points and 9 rebounds. Danjel Purifoy scored 13 points and J’Von McCormick finished with 12 points. Austin Wiley had 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Here are the highlights!