February 3, 2018 - Auburn Arena
As the calendar turned to February, Auburn was 20-2, 8-1 in the SEC and with a win in their next game, had a chance to lead the SEC by 3 games. That next opponent: a team they hadn’t beat since 2007.
Yes, the Vanderbilt Commodores were an absolute thorn in the side of the Auburn Tigers for over a decade having won 13 straight games against Auburn by an average of 14.2 PPG. This Vanderbilt team had just 2 SEC wins to their credit so if there was ever going to be the time to end the streak, Auburn had to do it on this Saturday night inside Auburn Arena.
Jared Harper got it started knocking down a pair of 3s and Bryce Brown followed with one of his own to get Auburn off to an 11-2 start. The 3s would continue to fall in the early going as Chuma Okeke, Harper and Mustapha Heron each hit a 3 in the game’s first 10 minutes.
At points in the first half, Auburn was toying with the Commodores including this play from Chuma Okeke in which we got a great quote from Sonny Smith:
“Goodness Sakes” from the National Treasure himself, Sonny Smith. pic.twitter.com/NkIWaqgd7j— Jaylin Williams Fan Account (@ShootyHoopsWill) September 23, 2020
Chuma Okeke had a great run in the 1st half off the bench for Auburn scoring 10 1st half points including a 3-pointer to end the 1st half. Auburn didn’t finish particularly well that 1st half as Vanderbilt pulled within 7 after trailing by 22 before Okeke’s half ending 3. Auburn led 45-35 at halftime.
Auburn jumped out of the gate early in the 2nd half with a bucket from Desean Murray and then a steal and dunk from Bryce Brown in the half’s first minute to put Auburn up 49-35.
From there, Mustapha Heron took over.
Mustapha would score Auburn’s next 13 points over the next 4 minutes on a trio of 3-pointers, a layup and a thunderous dunk off a beautiful pass from Jared Harper who became an incredible facilitator in the 2nd half.
Despite Mustapha’s great run, Vanderbilt hung in there and trailed 64-54 with 12:30 to go.
Then it was Bryce Brown’s turn to go on a run.
Bryce would score Auburn’s next 13 points, in just over 3 minutes, hitting 3s on back to back possessions, then score from 2 on the next possession and then capping it off converting a 4-point play hitting a 3 in the corner and making his free throw after being fouled on the play. Auburn led 76-58 with 10 minutes to go thanks to Heron and Brown’s incredible scoring runs.
Malik Dunbar would get in on the 3-point shooting, knocking down a pair of 3s as Jeff Roberson and Vandy simply wouldn’t go away. Vandy got it to 9 with 2 minutes to go but Desean Murray hit a 3 and then a layup to finally put the Commodores away, both off assists from Jared Harper.
Auburn made a season high 17 3-pointers in this contest and were 17-26 overall from distance. 3s are better than 2s folks.
Mustapha Heron led Auburn with 25 points and was 5-7 from 3-point range. Bryce Brown had 23 points, 5 rebounds and was 4-6 from 3.
Jared Harper had 14 points and a career high 14 assists. Harper had 10 assists in the 2nd half alone. Chuma Okeke had 12 points, Desean Murray had 9 points and Malik Dunbar added 8 for the Tigers.
Here are the highlights!
W. #WarEagle | #DubSZN pic.twitter.com/7xC6MbhCPN— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) February 4, 2018
Auburn would move up to #8 in the next poll but lose their next game in heartbreaking fashion (on my birthday) to Texas A&M by 1, the only setback at Auburn Arena during the 2017-2018 season. But at #60, we will see Auburn quickly get back to their winning ways.