November 10, 2017 - Auburn Arena
The expectations were risen going into the 2017-2018 season for Auburn. With Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron coming back to team with Danjel Purifoy, Austin Wiley, and Bryce Brown, this looked like a team that could most certainly make the NIT with their eyes on March and the NCAA Tournament. And new additions included Presbyterian transfer Desean Murray, an outstanding rebounder, a pair of 4-star recruits in freshmen Chuma Okeke and Davion Mitchell and of course, #ClassicMalik was introduced to all of us as well as Malik Dunbar joined the Tigers from the JUCO ranks.
Then of course came the FBI stuff which led to Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy being forced to sit out. Then the Tigers lost their exhibition game later that evening and all in all, we weren’t sure what to expect going into this season at that point.
Auburn set the tone very early in this contest with an early 3 from Jared Harper followed by a dunk from Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray’s 1st Auburn bucket leading to a timeout less than 2 minutes into the game and a 7-0 Auburn lead.
But the 1st half of this game was the Bryce Brown show and was a sign of the improvements he had made as he transitioned from his sophomore to junior season.
We had grown accustomed to Bryce Brown being just a 3-point shooter, but his willingness to drive the ball into the paint and score on the inside was my biggest takeaway from this game. Brown was 8-11 in the 1st half and 4-7 from 3 as he scored 23 1st half points. Auburn’s lead stayed at about 8-14 through the 1st half before heading to the locker room up 49-32.
Auburn shot 68% in the 2nd half as the Tigers would run away from the Spartans en route to a 28 point victory. Auburn would build a 41 point lead in this game and hit the century mark in this one despite hitting just 8 3-pointers on the night.
Bryce Brown led the way scoring a then career high 31 points. Brown was 12-16 from the field, and accounted for half of Auburn’s 3s on the night (4). Desean Murray and Jared Harper each scored 13 points while Mustapha Heron and Anfernee McLemore each added 10 points. It was a good start to the new season and the start of a special weekend on the Plains with Auburn beating Georgia in football the following day.
Here are the highlights!
Up next at #80, we head to South Carolina as the Tigers began their run through the Charleston Classic.