Saturday, 17 February, 2018


Auburn's winning streak continues with second-half effort

No. 22 Auburn rallies to beat Mississippi St 76-68 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Bennie Garza | 14 January, 2018, 07:53

Even though the Bulldogs came up short in doing that Saturday in losing 76-68 to the Auburn Tigers, Ado continued to show an ability to be active in the post.

It was the Bulldogs' first loss at home this season and Auburn's 14th straight victory in a streak that dates back to November 19.

"I thought Bryce Brown was definitely hunting his shot and our guys were getting him open and finding him", Pearl said.

Auburn came into the game averaging more than 87 points per game, but struggled to make shots in the opening half.

"We played passively, played like we were on the road, and didn't look like a team that had 13 in a row", Pearl said.

But also just like it did Tuesday, Auburn bludgeoned its opponent in the second half, following a 50-25 effort against Ole Miss with a 52-33 performance against Mississippi State.

Combine that with 27 percent shooting from the floor and, well, the visitors' 11-point halftime deficit was no surprise. Guard Mustapha Heron and forward Desean Murray added 14 points apiece.

The Tigers recovered in the second half, hitting six of their first eight 3-point attempts to turn a 13-point deficit into an 11-point lead with 6 minutes left.

Auburn (16-1, 4-0 in SEC) was able to overcome a massive size differential in the paint and an 11-point halftime deficit thanks to the awakening of outside shots primarily from Bryce Brown. MSU was led by Quinndary Witherspoon's 14 points but the junior guard was in foul trouble in the second half and had just two field goals in the final 20 minutes.

"I felt their pressure defensively picked up in the second half, and that pushed us out further", Howland said. "It was all about staying composed and staying together. In the second half, we were more laid back, we have the same intensity as we had the first half".

Auburn outrebounded the Bulldogs 21-16 in the second half en route to Mississippi State's first loss at home this season.

Murray and Heron scored 14 each for the Tigers, and Harper chipped in 12.

The Bulldogs led 35-24 at the break and took their largest lead of the game on a pair of Aric Holman free throws at the 18:30 mark of the second half.

Auburn is now 4-1 in games where it has trailed by double digits.

The team resumes play Wednesday night at Alabama.

Auburn's cold outside shooting and inability to create an uptempo game in the first half on the road played right into the flawless style for the squeezing halfcourt defense of MSU head coach Ben Howland. "We'll celebrate this one for a little bit, but then we'll get ready for Alabama".

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