Auburn is on a two-game losing streak after Saturday’s 80-77 loss against Big 12 foe West Virginia. The Tigers entered the locker room after trailing 49–25 on the road. Auburn shot 11-27 from the field, 22% from three (2-9), and 5-8 from the charity stripe.
Eric Stevenson scored 18 of his game-high 31 points in the first half. Stevenson and his teammates shot 15-of-27 from the field and three from three. One of the main issues for the Tigers was the disparity at the free-throw line. Bob Huggins’ team was 12-13 from the line in the first half.
Johnny Broom went scoreless in the first half due to foul trouble to score 15 points in the second half for Bruce Pearl’s team. Jaylin Williams scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. He shot 4-6 from the field and 1-2 from three in the final 20 minutes.
Auburn rallied in the second frame to outscore the Mountaineers 48–35 after a poor first half, but it would not be enough.
“Disappointing loss,” said Pearl. Worked really hard to come back from being down 16 in the second half, but didn’t get the defensive stop we got in the second half in the last four minutes.”
KD Johnson was another Tiger who excelled in the second half. His steal at the 3:59 mark, followed by a layup, brought the Tigers to within a point of the WVU advantage. Johnson scored nine of his 10 points in the second half.
After several tough bouts for the Georgia transfer, Pearl applauded Johnson’s effort.
“I’m glad KD played better. He’s been patient,” Pearl said. “Trying not to turn it on, trying not to turn it too much. He’s been a little extra in the gym this week.
Broome hit a layup in less than seven seconds. On the ensuing possession, Stevenson missed one of his two free throws. The Tigers had one shot to send the game into overtime. Wendell Green’s buzzer-beater attempt came off the iron clinching the win for West Virginia.
Green finished the night with nine points on 2-10 shooting and 1-5 from three. He hit all four free throws, including two decisive shots late in the second half. Four Auburn players scored in double digits. Williams led the team in scoring with 18 points, Broom had 15, Alan Flannigan 13 and Johnson 10.
Auburn is 16-5 and 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference after Saturday’s loss against the Mountaineers and Wednesday’s loss against Texas A&M. The games will not be easy for the Tigers. Their next game is against Georgia at Neville Arena.
Georgia beat Auburn 76-64 in Athens earlier this season. Auburn ends the week with a trip to Knoxville for a game against Tennessee. Pearl called the loss a “missed prize”, but found something positive in how the team supported each other in a hostile environment.
“I’m so proud of the kids for working hard in a tough environment,” Pearl said. “The togetherness on the bench was the best we had all year. People were working hard for each other.
We’ll soon find out if the Tigers can attempt a comeback against West Virginia.
Nubyjas Wilborn covers Auburn for Alabama Media Group,