By Charles Goldberg
NEW YORK -- The lights weren't too bright for Danjel Purifoy, but not even a career night for the freshman could carry Auburn to victory in Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Purifoy scored 27 points and rallied the Tigers in the second half before Boston College scored on a tip-in with 0.2 second left for a 72-71 win.
"Danjel Purifoy played terrifically," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "He plays with a great rhythm and tempo offensively. He played really well.
"But probably beyond that, you could look at a lot of different positions, including the bench, and we didn't have one of our better nights."
Auburn trailed by 10 in the first half before taking its first lead with 61-60 with 6:46 left. The teams traded leads from there, keeping the Auburn fans on the edge of their seats.
"I'm very pleased with the turnout," Pearl said. "It's the first time Auburn has been to Madison Square Garden. From the media, I hope you guys will walk away and be astonished by how many people were here to see an Auburn basketball team that hasn't been to NCAA Tournament since 2003. Our Auburn family has given us great support. We just didn't take advantage of it tonight."
Purifoy tried. He hit two pressure-packed free throws with 7.5 seconds left to put the Tigers up by one. But Boston College had just enough time to win the first game of Monday's Under Armour Reunion.
"I'm really at a loss for words," Purifoy said. "If we had won this game, it would have been a big win for us."
Purifoy had his points and fellow freshman Mustapha Heron added 15 as Auburn's only other double-figure scorer.
Auburn fell to 6-2 heading into Thursday's home game against Coastal Carolina. Boston College improved to 5-5.
That stat sheet had something for both teams. Auburn's Horace Spencer had six blocks and the Tigers had 11 as a team. But Boston College out-rebounded Auburn 49-32. Auburn and Boston College combined for 38 turnovers and combined to miss 32 3-point attempts.
Still, it came to a tip-in.
"The rebounding advantage was significant," Pearl said. "The fact they dominated the glass was a factor, and as a result, they won the game on offensive rebounds. It stands to reason."
Auburn trailed 43-39 at halftime. "We didn't play well early. Our youth obviously showed. I thought defensively we had a hard time keeping Boston College in front of us," Pearl said.
The Tigers trailed by three, or four, or five, forever in the second half despite coming out of the break hitting only one of its first nine shots.
But Auburn kept shooting for that 61-60 lead. That was prelude to a wild final minute.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine