AUBURN, Ala. - Fans heading for the exit before the buzzer sounded, a rare sight for any event at Neville Arena. This was exactly the case toward the end of the Auburn/Texas A&M game Wednesday night. From students lining up hours before the doors open, to the family spending a night out, everyone was stunned as the clock hit zero. No one could believe what had happened. The streak was finally over after 28-games. Texas A&M defeated No.15 Auburn by a score of 79-63 to hand the Tigers their first loss at Neville Arena since February 23, 2021 against Florida.
“They played great, you got to give them credit,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “They came into tonight knowing this was a big opportunity and they played like it and played great.”
Auburn started out hot going on a 10-0 run after the Aggies recorded the first two points of the game. From then on out it seemed like it was a matter of time until the team from College Station took command back. The Aggies responded and controlled much of the first half down the stretch going on a 21-5 run, which led to a 38-28 lead going into halftime.
The Tigers struggled defending the perimeter all night, but particularly in the first half. Texas A&M had been averaging 31.5% from behind the arc throughout the season so far, however, they would be able to shoot an impressive 54.5% throughout the first 20 minutes.
The Texas A&M backcourt of Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford posed many challenges for the Tigers defense. Radford would go on to finish with 30 points in a game-high 38 minutes while Taylor IV added 15 points in 21 minutes.
“Well, Radford and Taylor are pretty good,” Pearl said. “Two great guards. We couldn’t keep them in front, and they came in and made shots. You know, that’s a team that averages five 3′s a game, and those guards were shooting. All those guards were shooting about 26 percent in league play, and Radford was 3-for-7, Taylor was 3-for-5, and some of those shots in the first half were big.”
Coming out of the break Auburn dominated the paint, going on to score their first eight points of the half from that area. Johni Broome once again showed off his versatility notching four of those points while adding two more points from the free throw line to start off the half. The Morehead State transfer came out with a big presence on the defensive end as well , adding four blocks to his stat line within the first six minutes before going on to finish with 16 points, seven blocks and seven rebounds
Wendell Green Jr. led the charge from the point, but was stopped in his tracks many times by the very effective double team the Aggies imposed. Despite struggling to find good angels to shoot, the guard went on to finish with a team-high 16 points, along with Broome, and five assists.
“They trapped the ball they trapped it out of Wendell’s hands,” Pearl said. “We worked on it all week long, we knew what they would do and we turned it over too many times. We weren’t able to get out of those traps.”
Turnovers were plentiful when Auburn handled the ball. The Tigers suffered 13 turnovers on the night with the most crucial coming down the stretch. Three of the turnovers would happen in the last three minutes of the game while Auburn was trying to make a push to close the gap the Aggies had created.
A positive Auburn supporters can take from the game is the return of Chris Moore. After being sidelined for an extended period of time Moore returned to action in the form of 12 minutes. Although Moore did not attempt a shot, fans should feel hopeful the senior will return to himself in the coming games.
“The first half I had the sling on but I had to mentally take it off, it was taking me out of the game,” Moore said. “I felt like the second half I got more comfortable.”
Auburn will be back in action this Saturday at West Virginia as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CT and it will be broadcasted on ESPN.