It definitely wasn’t pretty, but Auburn got enough from Jamal Johnson in the first half, and Sharife Cooper picked up the slack after halftime as the Tigers take a clutch road win in Nashville over Vanderbilt 73-67.
While Auburn shot just 22% from the floor in the first half, they shot 52% in the second half and came from behind to win comfortably in the end. Jamal Johnson and Sharife Cooper led all scorers with 19 points apiece, while Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan also added double digit outputs. Cooper’s second half was monstrous with 18 points and no turnovers.
The first half was painful, but quick. Both teams combined for just 48 points as Vanderbilt led 25-23 at the intermission, as Auburn made just 7 field goals. Jamal Johnson provided the majority of the offense with 13 points, including 3 three-pointers, but he was the only Tiger able to do much of anything. Vanderbilt jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Dylan Cardwell put Auburn on the board with a fastbreak dunk, but the Commodores stretched that lead to 12-4 before the Tigers started to play.
Back-to-back threes from Chris Moore and Jamal Johnson pulled Auburn within a basket, and then six straight points by Johnson put Auburn on top for the first time tonight. Vanderbilt regained the lead on a Dylan Disu jumper to go up 17-16 near the five-minute mark of the half, but another Johnson three gave Auburn the edge right back. Vandy tied the game at 20-20 on a three from Jordan Wright, and then a Maxwell Evans three in the final minute gave them a 25-23 edge heading into halftime.
After the break, both offenses picked it up immediately. After scoring just a single point in the first half, Sharife Cooper opened Auburn’s half with a three, and then assisted on consecutive alley-oop dunks to Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan. With Vanderbilt leading 38-34 at the 14:05 mark, Auburn started to get hot from outside. Cambridge and Johnson hit threes to boost Auburn back in front 40-38, and then Johnson’s fifth three gave Auburn its biggest lead thus far at 46-40 moments later.
Sharife Cooper started to find points as well, as he hit a stepback baseline jumper, and then made four straight foul shots before an old-fashioned three point play. With his 9 consecutive points for Auburn, the Tigers took a 58-51 lead into the final timeout of the game. Out of the under-4 break, Cooper hit another pair of foul shots for 11 straight points, giving him 14 in the second half. As the final minute ticked by, Cooper hit another shot to put Auburn ahead by 11 points and almost close the door with a 67-56 lead. Auburn cruised from there to win and improve to 5-7 in conference play.
Next up for Auburn will be a trip to Rupp Arena to take on an extremely struggling Kentucky team that fell to Arkansas tonight 81-80, their sixth loss in seven games.