By Charles Goldberg
OXFORD, Miss. -- Auburn's TJ Lang was among the hottest of all the hot 3-point shooters Wednesday night, saying he had the easy job in knocking down long-range shots after his teammates did the hard part of finding him open, saying he hoped he could build on a career night.
Auburn hopes so, too.
Lang scored a career-best 19 points, but it wasn't enough to stop the home-standing Rebels who won 80-63 at the new Pavilion at Ole Miss.
Lang said he really wasn't aware of his big night as it took place.
"I was so focused on the defensive game plan, just trying to get stops," he said. "When the ball came to me, I was open. I've been working with some of the coaches getting my shooting touch back and tonight it was falling."
Kareem Canty helped Lang's cause, drawing away defenders by driving the lane. That allowed Lang to hit five 3-pointers.
"He did a really good job penetrating. Ole Miss, when he went to the lane, sunk pretty hard, and I just moved and he hit me and I had the easy job," Lang said.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Lang's performance was one of the highlights.
"It was great to see TJ Lang play with confidence," Pearl said. "He really wanted the basketball. He was circling back and hunting. It was very positive for him."
Lang and Bryce Brown combined for six 3-pointers in the first half. Auburn led 30-29 at the break in what was becoming a 3-point shootout. The two teams combined to fire up 58 3-pointers. Each hit 10 of them.
Lang went shot for shot with SEC leading scorer Stefan Moody most of the way. Moody, who had missed the previous game, came back to hit six 3-pointers and score 24 points.
Tyler Harris added 16 points for Auburn. Canty, who leads the Tigers in scoring this season, finished with eight points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Ole Miss improved to 13-7 overall and 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn fell to 9-10 overall and 3-5 in the league. The Tigers will try again against Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Auburn Arena as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Three-point shots fell from the rafters from the beginning. They never stopped. Auburn shot 16 of them in the first half. So did Ole Miss. Lang and Brown won that battle early.
Lang hit four 3-pointers and Brown hit two in the first half, including one just before the halftime buzzer to give Auburn a 30-29 lead. The Tigers benefitted from improved defensive play, holding the Rebels to 32 percent shooting in the first half. The Rebels didn't hit a field goal the final 7:53 heading to the break.
But Ole Miss shot 55.9 percent in the second half and outscored Auburn 55-31.
"I thought defensively we played really well in the first half," Pearl said. "I thought we did some things that bothered them."
But a lack of depth eventually caught up with the Tigers. Ole Miss won the rebounding battle 40-33 and the Rebels' bench outscored Auburn's bench 34-11.
"That's what happens when you play seven guys. It's tough," Pearl said.
"Our problem right now is we're not getting better. We're so banged up. We're scrapping and we're clawing. We've got some wins against all odds, but it definitely is wearing on us."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine