Auburn's TJ Lang rose above the rest in win over Georgia
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn played without leading scorer Tyler Harris on Wednesday night, but the Tigers were no worse for wear.
TJ Lang, Jordon Granger, Horace Spencer, T.J. Dunans and Bryce Brown all had career bests on the stat sheet, and Auburn held off Georgia 84-81 in Auburn Arena to surpass its regular-season SEC win total from a year ago.
"The fans were supporting us so much, it was time we held up our end," Lang said.
Lang scored a career-high 21 points and Granger had career highs with 18 points and 11 rebounds on his way to his first college double-double. Horace Spencer scored a career-high 9 points and had 8 rebounds, Dunans had a career-best 7 assists and Brown had a career-best 6 rebounds.
Harris didn't dress out after suffering a concussion in last Saturday's game and the Tigers' double-double machine, Cinmeon Bowers, played only three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Auburn, playing shorthanded most of the season anyway, played through it.
"We're used to playing without players," Lang said. "We've had so many players go out this year, it's just something where we've come together. We are what we've got."
What Auburn had Wednesday was a 16-point first-half lead, and then clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to hold on. Auburn hit 10-of-12 free throw attempts in the final 41 seconds.
Auburn, winning for the second time in the last three games, improved to 11-16 overall and 5-10 in the Southeastern Conference as it heads to Saturday's 4 p.m. game at Alabama. Georgia, which beat Auburn 65-55 on Feb. 6, fell to 14-12 overall and 7-8 in the league.
"I talked to the team that last year's team didn't do," Pearl said. "Let's get our fifth regular-season (SEC) win."
The bonus: "Georgia is our most fertile recruiting ground. It's an important game for us."
Spencer helped Auburn set the tone early, with 8 fast points to match his career high, and his usual rebounds and blocks as well. He finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The Tigers led 39-23 at the break, and that 16-point advantage was the biggest halftime lead of the season.
Lang scored most of his points early. Granger was steady throughout as he replaced Harris at power forward.
"Jordon had to go back and play his old spot. He's probably better at it," said coach Bruce Pearl. "But because we've been so banged up in the backcourt all year long, he's had to play the three. He's pretty good at the four (power forward). It's the position he trained for all summer. We turned a negative into a positive.
"I was used to playing the four," Granger said. "I'm used to playing two through five. Wherever I'm needed, I go."
Dunans, playing in his second game after missing 15 games with a knee injury, "made a huge difference,' Pearl said.
"We don't win the game without him. Seven assists and one turnover in his second game back."
Lang agreed with his coach's assessment of Dunans.
"He makes a huge difference."
"He's an animal," Granger added.
"He's such a matchup problem for the defense," Lang said. "He can get to the rim at will."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: