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GAME RECAP: Ole Miss 86, Auburn 84

Overtime loss, blown double digit lead. Gross.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the 2020-2021 season has been fragmented and dissonant for the Auburn Tigers, without playing a single game with a full roster, and running one of the youngest rosters in the country. With that, Auburn has been close in many regards to winning SEC games, but there are many areas for improvement. Nonetheless, the talent is there, and this can immediately be one of the best teams in the conference next season if the right pieces return.

None of that will help the sting after an 86=84 overtime buzzer beater loss to Ole Miss today at home, however.

Auburn blew a 14-point lead to the Rebels, and failed to score in the final two minutes, allowing Ole Miss to catch up and take the game into overtime. There, the Rebels outscored Auburn and won 86-84 on Devontae Shuler’s jumper as time expired. Despite the loss, it was another banner day for Sharife Cooper, who paced the Tigers with 15 points and 14 assists, including a couple of truly dazzling dimes in the first half. Auburn also got 16 points apiece from Allen Flanigan, Devan Cambridge, and Jaylin Williams. The latter hit 4-7 three-pointers on the afternoon, establishing himself as one of the Tigers’ top perimeter shooters in conference play.

From nearly the start, Auburn controlled the game. After a bit of a slow shooting afternoon off the block, the Tigers took a 17-16 lead on a Jaylin Williams bucket at the 13:30 mark of the opening half. The Rebel lead they erased would be Ole Miss’ last until overtime. After the Tigers retook the advantage, they built a 27-20 lead on a Cooper alley-oop to Dylan Cardwell, and then the largest lead of the first frame at 35-27 on a Devan Cambridge three late in the period. Auburn took a 40-34 margin into the intermission.

The second half began much more satisfyingly than its predecessor, with Auburn more than doubling the lead in the first two minutes. After a three by Williams and another dunk by Cardwell, the Tigers led 47-34, and weren’t done yet. Jaylin Williams swished another three moments later to establish the largest lead of the game at 14 points (50-36 Auburn) at the 16:43 mark. From that point on, Ole Miss started whittling away.

Over the next 90 seconds, the Rebels brought the lead back into single digits on a Devontae Shuler layup, but Auburn countered and expanded it back to 58-46 on a thunderous J.T. Thor dunk. At the midway point of the half, Auburn led by ten points, but Ole Miss strung together a 6-0 run and got right back in the contest. As the game dwindled past five minutes to play, Romello Height hit a layup to bring the lead down to a point. Auburn clawed back and took a 72-67 lead at the two-minute mark, but failed to score the rest of the game. Shuler hit a monster three for the Rebels at the 1:52 mark, and Height evened the game with a minute to play. Auburn’s final possession was disjointed and the Tigers couldn’t get a great final shot as we went into overtime.

In the extra frame, Auburn only got production from Allen Flanigan over the first two minutes, falling behind by five points and seemingly falling out of it. However, they pulled back and Sharife Cooper hit a game-tying three with :13 left. Looking like the game was heading to a second overtime, however, Devontae Shuler buried a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to give Ole Miss the win.

Up next for Auburn, they’ll play on Tuesday at Vanderbilt with a 7:30 pm CST tipoff.

FINAL STATS