Auburn wins thrilling SEC home opener, moves to 14-0
AUBURN, AL - Isaac Okoro's career high 23 points lift Auburn over Vanderbilt in SEC home opener 83-79.
Auburn Arena was sold out Wednesday night for the Tigers' SEC home opener. 2500 students filled up the student section as early as 22 minutes after doors opened. This is the fastest time in Auburn Arena history.
It was a tight contest early as both teams went back and forth. Vanderbilt took a slim 15-13 lead after the first nine minutes of the game. A two minute Auburn scoring drought helped with this too.
No panic from Isaac Okoro though as he had an impressive first half with 17 points and helped Auburn take the lead into the half 42-38. Anfernee McLemore was right behind with 14 at the half but had to sit near the end due to having three fouls.
Saben Lee led the Commodores at halftime with 14 points.
As the second half began Auburn picked up right where they left off with a 9-0 run. Danjel Purifoy played a big role in the run just like last Saturday in Starkville.
"Just be aggressive through the whole second half...I knew I had to be aggressive in the second half" said Purifoy.
Towards the end of the game, Vandy made late offensive pushes with key possessions. They even tied Auburn at 79 with 59.4 remaining.
The Tiger offense looked too poised for Vanderbilt though in the second half and found a way to win. Some clutch J'Von McCormick and Isaac Okoro free throws in the final minute boost Auburn over Vanderbilt 83-79.
Okoro finished with a career high of 23 points.
"I knew I had to be aggressive coming out of the gate" said Okoro. When asked about the freshman, Danjel Purifoy said, "He's a beast man. He is not a freshman in our eyes."
"He plays like a senior" said head coach Bruce Pearl.
Senior Austin Wiley finished with another double-double recording 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Saben Lee was the game's leading scorer and had 27 points. Vanderbilt however would fall to 8-6 (0-1 SEC).
With the win Auburn improves to 14-0 (2-0 SEC). Auburn's next game is Saturday January 11th at 5:00 PM CST in Auburn Arena.