For much of the afternoon, it seemed like Auburn (10-10) was in control against Ole Miss (10-8). However, Ole Miss rallied from a 14 point second half deficit against Auburn to force overtime and then won the game 86-84 on Davontae Shuler's off balance jumper with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime. The win by Ole Miss allows the Rebels to sweep the season series against the Tigers. Auburn led 50-36 at the 16:43 mark in the second half but saw that lead slowly evaporate as the minutes ticked away. The Tigers still led by five with two minutes to play after a Dylan Cardwell dunk, but Ole Miss scored the final five points of regulation to send the contest to overtime. It seemed Auburn had duplicated the Rebels' feat in the overtime period. Ole Miss led 84-79 with 39 seconds to play in the overtime period, but Sharife Cooper scored five straight points to tie the game with 15 seconds to go; however, that simply set the scene for Shuler's late game heroics. Shuler and Romello White were a two man wrecking crew against the Tigers combining for 56 points, including a career high 30 from White to go along with 10 rebounds. For much of the afternoon, the intense physicality of the game made it seem more like a heavyweight boxing match rather than a basketball game.
Ole Miss got off to a fast start jumping out to a 10-4 lead in the first four minutes. Auburn quickly settled in after that and the two teams traded blows throughout the middle part of the first half. Auburn eventually led by as many as eight in the first half, 40-32, before a White basket trimmed Auburn's lead to six at the halftime break. Auburn scored the first seven points of the second half and ten of the first twelve to build the aforementioned 14 point lead. Auburn still led by double digits, 61-51, halfway through the second half. However, Ole Miss ended regulation on a 21-11 run to force the extra period.
Auburn did a lot of things right on offense but, continuing a recent trend in the Tigers three game losing streak, the Tigers struggled on defense. Ole Miss shot 50% from the field. Once again, defending the paint was an issue for the Tigers, as Ole Miss scored 44 inside. Ole Miss also was able to grab 12 offensive rebounds, while also forcing Auburn into 17 turnovers. While Auburn's struggles on defense were apparent, the Tigers also had a great offensive game against the SEC's second best defense. Ole Miss entered the game allowing just 63 points a game. Auburn had 23 assists on 30 made baskets and finished the game shooting 47.6% from the field. Auburn made 12 three point field goals and shot 41.4% from behind the arc. Auburn did leave a few points behind at the free throw line as the Tigers only shot 66.7% (12-18) at the charity stripe.
Individually, the sophomore trio of Allen Flanigan, Devan Cambridge, and Jaylin Williams led Auburn with 16 points apiece. Sharife Cooper added 15 points and a career high 14 assists. Dylan Cardwell rounded out the Tigers in double figures scoring a career high 10 points in a career high 28 minutes. Postgame, Bruce Pearl cited Cardwell's physical presence in the post against Romello White as the reason for his career high minutes. Cambridge was Auburn's leading rebounder with seven boards.
Auburn is next in action on the road Tuesday evening in Nashville when they take on Vanderbilt.
K.D. Johnson led the way with 19 points and Jabari Smith finished with 17. Auburn is in action next Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EST/10:30 a.m. CST against Nebraska in Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
The No. 21 Auburn Tigers basketball team defeated the University of Central Florida Knights Wednesday evening inside Auburn Arena 85-68. After losing against the Knights a year ago on the road, the Tigers successfully defended their home floor. Auburn used a strong second half to pull away, outscoring the Knights by 14.