By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Tyler Harris went out in style in his final home game on Senior Night, and thanked the fans in the process. But the game that started with promise slipped away from Auburn on Tuesday night.
Texas A&M beat the Tigers 81-63 in Auburn Arena despite Harris scoring 20 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and having a career-high 3 blocks.
Harris, who came to Auburn as a graduate transfer before the season, was the bright spot for the Tigers.
"The fans have been great, each and every game, the ones that we won and the games that we lost. They have been here to support us," he said. "I thank the fans so much for welcoming me into this home.
"It's an amazing feeling and Auburn will always have a place in my heart."
It was the final home game for Harris and fellow seniors Cinmeon Bowers and Jordon Granger, as well as walk-ons Cole Stockton and Jonathan Harris. Auburn started well enough, and even enjoyed an 11-point first-half lead, but cold shooting and a rebounding disadvantage finally caught up with the Tigers.
Harris was consistent throughout, but "I don't think I played well at all. It was really tough."
Auburn fell to 11-18 overall and 5-12 in the Southeastern Conference with its final regular-season game remaining at Mississippi State on Saturday. Texas A&M improved to 23-7 overall and 12-5 in the league. The Aggies can win the SEC title if they beat Vanderbilt on Saturday.
On Tuesday, "Texas A&M played like a champion," said Auburn's Bruce Pearl.
Pearl said Auburn had its moments, too. "To be tied at the half, shows you we haven't laid down. But I'm very, very disappointed we weren't able to play more effectively."
Auburn was hot in the beginning, going on a 12-0 run to go up 24-16. The Tigers led by 11 a short time later. But Auburn didn't score the final three minutes of the first half and the Aggies closed on a 14-3 run to tie things up at 33-all at halftime.
The Aggies kept going, stretching their success late in the first half into the second half. A&M outscored Auburn 27-3 during on an extended stretch to take a 45-33 lead with 16:40 left in the game. A&M led by 22 with 4:33 remaining.
A&M dominated part of the halftime stat sheet. Auburn countered with 3-pointers.
Texas A&M outrebounded Auburn a whopping 32-12 in the first half and took 13 more shots. But Auburn was right there thanks to two 3-pointers apiece from Granger, TJ Lang and Bryce Brown. The Aggies missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts.
The final numbers fell short for Auburn as well. The Tigers were outrebounded 51-27.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine