Feb. 17, 2016
By Charles Goldberg
Somebody had to step up. Bryce Brown did.
The Auburn freshman hit nine 3-pointers, scored a career-high 27 points and helped the Tigers beat Arkansas 90-86 to score their first SEC road win of the season Wednesday night.
Brown was hot from the start, and at the finish, and had plenty of help along the way. Coach Bruce Pearl said so.
"It was very, very special," Pearl said. "It took a tremendous effort from seven guys."
And 15 3-pointers. Nobody was better at shooting them than Brown, who came within a 3 of tying the single-game school record.
Auburn was in search of a shooter after leading scorer Kareem Canty was suspended, and ultimately left the team. Brown said he heard his call to action before the game as Auburn tried to turn things around.
"Coach Pearl and the assistant coaches said, 'we're a player short, a big scorer short, I have to get the ball and get open more and make shots.' They're asking a little bit more out of me. It's nothing I can't do," Brown said.
Brown and TJ Lang combined to hit 14 of Auburn's 15 3-pointers.
Tyler Harris, slowed by a back injury the last several weeks, scored 19; Lang's five 3-pointers helped him to 17 points; and Cinmeon Bowers scored 14 and had 10 rebounds.
"It showed we believe in each other and can win with each other," Brown said. "We did everything together today, we scored together and a great performance on defense and offense."
Auburn, slowed in the SEC season by injuries and the departure of Canty, improved to 10-15 overall and 4-9 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas fell to 12-14 overall and 5-8 in the league. The Tigers snapped a seven-game losing streak, surprising the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena where Auburn sported just a 2-19 record.
"To say that our team needed that would be an understatement," Pearl said.
Auburn had one of its best offensive halves of the season when it found itself in a 46-46 halftime tie. The Tigers struggled early in the second half, fell behind during a 15-2 Arkansas run on the way to a 61-52 lead with 13:45 left.
The Tigers didn't quit.
Lang hit big shots down the stretch as Auburn took an 83-79 lead with 1:28 left.
Pearl didn't mind going through the box score on the post-game show on the Auburn radio network -- even the odd stat line for Brown.
"Nine 3s, no 2s, no free throws, no rebounds, no assists. Our guys are going to give Bryce a hard time," Pearl said with a laugh.
"Horace Spencer seven blocks. Tyler Harris has 19 points. Welcome back. I'm so happy for Tyler. Bryce Brown, there might be a few freshmen in the country who can shoot better than him, but there are not a lot. I'm really happy for Bryce.
"Cinmeon almost has a triple-double. He almost has a quadruple-double. Fourteen points, 10 rebounds, six assists and he had five turnovers. Lang is 5-for-6 from 3, including two big ones in the second half down the stretch. Jonathan Walker gives us a couple of minutes. And Pat Keim gives us a couple of minutes. And Jordon Granger made a boatload of winning plays."
Both teams came out hot. Brown six 3-pointers in the first half and led everybody with 18 points at the break.
The Tigers demonstrated their intentions, early, hitting 6-of-8 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes. Auburn's offense was still rolling along at halftime after hitting 9-of-15 3-pointers, good for a 46-46 tie. Auburn shot a hot 60.7 percent from the field.
Those 46 Auburn points in the first half were one more than the Tigers scored in the entire game against Tennessee just eight days earlier.
"I want to thank the Auburn family for not quitting on us and understanding what we're going through," Pearl said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: