After an impressive first half, Auburn held on to defeat Kansas 89-75 in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
This win propels the Tigers into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.
“We’re humble and hungry, we have respect for Bill and the Kansas program and we wanted to represent the SEC,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
The first few minutes of the game started off great for the Tigers, as they took a 12-5 lead. Balanced scoring came early, as their first five field goals were made by five different players.
Three pointers were raining down for Auburn, with the team knocking down six out of their first eight attempted within the first ten minutes of the half.
This offensive onslaught continued, as the Tigers shot over 50 percent overall and from the three-point line en route to a commanding 51-25 lead at halftime.
The second half started off with the Jayhawks clawing their way back into the game and trimming the Auburn lead to under 20, but timely shots from the Tigers helped them maintain a comfortable lead.
Despite the rebounding disadvantage (38-27 in favor of Kansas), Auburn used tenacious defense to force nine steals and sixteen overall turnovers.
Four Tigers scored in double figures, led by Bryce Brown, who scored 25 points on 9-13 shooting (7-11 from 3-point range). Jared Harper contributed with 18 points and six assists, while Chuma Okeke and Anfernee McLemore scored 12 and 11 points respectively.
With tonight’s performance from downtown, Auburn has now made 12 or more three-pointers in seven consecutive games.
Dedric Lawson had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas.
Coach Pearl said it best: "We’re heading on to Kansas City and we want to win two more games.”
Next up for Auburn (28-9) is a trip to Kansas City to face off against the winner of North Carolina/Washington in the Sweet 16 Friday. Time and TV network are TBD.