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Auburn drops 79-68 decision to Arkansas

Feb. 25, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - In a game that featured two of the SEC's top offenses, the track meet never materialized, with Arkansas defeating Auburn 79-68 Saturday at Auburn Arena.

"One of the things I'm most disappointed in is we just haven't defended our home floor, particularly in conference play," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "Our kids really wanted this one. We just didn't execute. I thought our effort was there."

Jared Harper led Auburn with 17 points. Mustapha Heron added 16. Auburn falls to 17-12, 6-10 in the SEC. Arkansas improves to 22-7, 11-5.

"I don't think our problem was that much on the defensive end tonight," Heron said. "I think we covered their stuff pretty well, but I think offensively we didn't have the right patience and the right spacing the whole game."

After trailing by 13 early in the second half, the Tigers steadily chipped away, missing a chance to make it a 4-point game in the final 5 minutes.

Heron cut the deficit to single digits, 54-45, with a 3-pointer.

Anfernee McLemore's follow-up slam of a missed 3-pointer pulled the Tigers within 6, 55-49, leading to an Arkansas timeout. McLemore led Auburn with 8 rebounds.

The Razorbacks answered with 5 unanswered points by Dusty Hannahs, stretching the lead to 11, forcing Pearl to take a timeout. Hannahs scored 18.

Harper and Bryce Brown made 3's to pull the Tigers within 6, 67-61.

The Tigers were unable to get any closer, hindered by 11 missed free throws. Auburn shot 12-of-23, 52.2 percent, from the line.

"You can't shoot 52 percent from the foul line and beat a team going to the NCAA Tournament," Pearl said.

Arkansas shot 50 percent from the field (29-of-58), while Auburn shot 37.1 percent (23-of-62).

Auburn trailed 40-31 at the half, after playing the Razorbacks evenly for much of the half.

The Tigers went cold over the last three minutes of the half, while the Razorbacks stayed hot. Jaylen Barford, who led all scorers with 20 points, scored 10 in each half.

"They really do a good job of playing fast but under control. That's something we want to be as a team," said Heron, who led Auburn with 7 points in the first half. "Being able to play fast but under control. Their spacing is great. They set great screens. That's something that we're working on as a team. It would be great to be able to play like them."

The Tigers play at Georgia Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., before concluding the regular season next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at home against Missouri.

"We have to win our last two games to be able to, once again, be in position where we can pretty much do what we thought we could do," Pearl said. "We're still in position for postseason, but obviously we're disappointed we didn't get that signature home win."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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