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GAME RECAP: Texas A&M 78, #17 Auburn 75

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Well, heck.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

That was a bit of a dud. Auburn’s senior night didn’t quite go as planned, and we let a slew of mainstays on the Tiger basketball scene head out of town with a whimper more than a roar. Final score — Texas A&M 78, Auburn 75.

Aside from losing on Senior Night, the Tigers also lost their perfect home record in the final game at Auburn Arena this season. It happened a little bit in reverse of many of Auburn’s great home wins this season, because the Tigers got up early and then allowed a big run only to trail the entire time.

Maybe we saw that this team tried a little too hard to be last year’s team. We attempted 30 three-pointers tonight, hitting just ten. That means that we clanked 20 shots from distance. That’s not great for the worst three-point shooting team in the league. Furthermore, we failed to figure out Texas A&M’s zone defense for way too long, and the Aggies forced us into their slow rock fight style of play.

Samir Doughty was fantastic in his final night at Auburn Arena. 25 points will do it every time. Isaac Okoro was also great, especially late when he got particularly irked and started to take over. Sadly, Texas A&M had an incredibly even scoring effort with four players scoring at least 14 points, and they were led by Josh Nebo’s 19 points. Too often down the stretch, the Aggies made clutch shots, including the dagger three in the final minute to take an eight point lead. Despite that, however, Auburn still had a final chance at the end after a couple of late threes to pull within striking distance.

At the beginning, Auburn ran out to a 10-1 lead thanks to four straight makes from Austin Wiley and Samir Doughty, including a pair of threes. A&M caught up, however, and tied the game midway through the first half on a Josh Nebo tip-in. After a Jaylin Williams alley-oop jam gave Auburn a 19-17 lead, A&M got a three from Andre Gordon to take a lead that they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the first half.

Trailing 33-26 at the break, Bruce Pearl must have lit a fire under his players in the locker room, because Auburn ran off nine straight points to take a 35-33 lead barely three minutes into the second half. Auburn fell back behind after the Aggies ran off a key 10-3 run near the midway point of the second half to go up 51-44. From that point, Auburn was able to pull within a bucket but couldn’t find the extra push to make up the entire difference. Time dwindled, and twice the Tigers found themselves by just two points. Both times A&M answered with a basket to reestablish a two-possession lead.

In the final moments, Auburn trailed 72-67 and needed to find at least one stop, but Wendell Mitchell buried a late shot clock three to push the margin to eight points. Auburn didn’t quite go away, with Danjel Purifoy and J’Von McCormick both burying threes. Down just 77-75, Auburn fouled Savion Flagg, who made one free throw, but the Tigers couldn’t get off the last second shot to try and tie, and fell 78-75.

Now, Auburn sits at 11-6 in the SEC, and although they’re guaranteed a double bye at next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville, whether that’s the 2, 3 or 4 seed remains to be seen. With one game left, Auburn is tied with LSU and Florida at 11-6, and the Tigers have their trip to Tennessee this Saturday to try and earn that second seed. Tipoff from Knoxville comes at 11 AM.

Hey, at least one nice thing happened tonight: