December 23, 2016 - Hartford, Connecticut
When Auburn scheduled a Home & Home with UConn before the 2016-2017 season, I was excited to see Bruce schedule a Four Time National Champion. It was another step in the plan to make the men’s basketball program relevant.
After a Jared Harper 3 to start the game, the Huskies would lead the remainder of the first half but a 3 from T.J. Lang with 40 seconds to go would put Auburn within 1 at halftime with the score 31-30.
As it did in the first half, this game remained a 1-2 possession game throughout the 2nd half as the teams went back and forth trading the lead.
With 7 minutes to go, Auburn trailed 52-51 before a 7-0 highlighted by Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron gave Auburn a 58-52 lead with 5 minutes to go. Harper would make another bucket with 3:34 left to put Auburn up 60-54 but that was the last point Auburn would score in regulation. The Huskies would tie the game at 60 with 21 seconds left. Auburn had a chance to win it in regulation but Harper missed a 3 and the game would go to Overtime.
The offenses struggled somewhat in overtime and Auburn scored just 4 points in the first 4 minutes of overtime continuing to struggle from the field. But Danjel Purifoy would knock down a 3, his only field goal of the game, to tie the game at 67. Purifoy was 1-10 from the field but his 1 make was a big one and he also pulled down a career high 15 rebounds. A block by T.J. Dunans on the ensuing possession would set Jared Harper up for another big moment as he would score with 27 seconds left to put Auburn up 69-67. After a missed 3 by UConn, Mustapha would go 1-2 from the line and leave Connecticut one more chance to force a second OT. The 3-point attempt was no good at the Tigers would earn their 1st ever win over UConn in school history.
Jared Harper would finish with 22 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds to lead the way. Mustapha Heron would beat his home state school and added 15 points and 8 rebounds. Auburn got a combined 16 points and 8 rebounds from their big men Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore as well in this one.
Winning 2 games in a 48 hour span in the state of Connecticut was a big accomplishment for this young group of Tigers.
Here are the highlights plus some postgame comments from Jared and Bruce!
Tomorrow at #89, we move into 2017 and in to SEC play for another program first!