The Tigers are coming back from the Big Apple with two big wins.
No. 18 Auburn roared over Richmond 79-65 on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, sweeping through the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center using a strong second half against the Spiders.
Auburn trailed 35-34 at the end of the first half, as seen on ESPN2, but started the second half with an 8-3 run and went up by 10 on a jumper by Anfernee McLemore with 14:23 left.
Auburn charged on from there.
The Tigers beat New Mexico 84-59 in the tournament semifinal on Monday night. Auburn moved to 7-0 while dropping Richmond to 5-1.
Austin Wiley scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds to cap his monstrous doubleheader in the home of the Brooklyn Nets. He finished with 14 and 13 on Monday.
His play, plus strong defense and a relentless rebounding effort helped push Auburn to victory in both games, making up for stop-and-go scoring and some shortcomings at the free-throw line.
“That’s going to make for a happier Thanksgiving,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said postgame on the Auburn Sports Network radio broadcast.
“We beat a good team,” he added.
Richmond entered the game with the nation’s third-best 3-point-shooting percentage, hitting 44.7 percent of its shots from range. Auburn’s perimeter defense stifled the Spiders, allowing Richmond to hit just two of 18 at only 11.1 percent on Tuesday night.
Auburn pulled down 18 offensive rebounds against Richmond, after pulling down 19 against New Mexico. Auburn went to Brooklyn with its season-high in that category being 11, and blew out that number in both games.
The Tigers rolled. Samir Doughty scored a team-best 22 points for Auburn. Danjel Purifoy scored 13. Isaac Okoro had nine points and six rebounds.
Wiley was named the tournament’s MVP.
His basket inside gave Auburn the lead at 36-35 right out of the halftime break, and the Tigers never trailed again.
“We just had to keep playing and just get better,” Wiley said of halftime, speaking postgame on the Auburn Sports Network radio broadcast. “We knew to have confidence and we just had to come out with energy and defensive rebounding — just out-physical them. So that’s what we did. We came out with the win.”
Auburn’s now won 19 of its last 20 games dating back to last season. Pearl said his Tigers wore the Spiders down in the second half. Defense and rebounding travels well, coaches often say, and Auburn’s play in those facets helped the Tigers capture hardware in Brooklyn. The Tigers knocked the Spiders off balance, especially from behind the 3-point line.
“They missed a few open ones, but we had a lot of contested ones — and the fact that they actually only got 18 off speaks to the way we guard,” Pearl said of Auburn’s perimeter defense against Richmond’s usually sharp shooting.
Auburn is now off for nine days before it returns to the court on Dec. 5 against Furman at home.
“It means a lot,” Wiley said of being named tournament MVP, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“I’m going to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, but I’m going to be in the gym, so I’m just going to be ready for the next game.