Bryce Brown was on target for Auburn against Hawaii
By Charles Goldberg
Bryce Brown and Kareem Canty combined for 11 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough for Auburn to hold a second-half lead in the Diamond Head Classic on Friday.
Hawaii beat Auburn 79-67 on its home court to win the tournament's third-place game by outscoring the tiring Tigers 10-0 down the stretch.
Auburn, which played without injured starting guards T.J. Dunans and Tahj Shamsid-Deen, couldn't keep up after Horace Spencer fouled out with about 10 minutes left. The Tigers played in foul trouble for much of the second half, losing a nine-point lead in the process.
"Very difficult situation," said coach Bruce Pearl.
Four Tigers -- Brown, Canty, Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris -- each played at least 32 minutes as Pearl was limited by a short bench.
"Heavy, heavy minutes. Third game in four days," Pearl said on Auburn's post-game radio show. "I would have loved to been able to play more of our bench. We got fatigued in the second half.
"The injuries have been daunting. Our basketball team competes. We did not make it a Merry Christmas I think we represented ourselves pretty well. We competed. We fought."
Auburn, which 1-2 in Hawaii, fell to 6-5. Hawaii improved to 9-2.
Auburn lead 63-62 with 6:42 left, but scored just four points the rest of the way.
Brown kept Auburn in the game early, finishing with six 3-pointers and a career-best 20 points.
"Bryce played very well. He stepped up in a big way with T.J. Dunans being hurt," Pearl said.
Canty bounced back from an off game Wednesday with five 3-pointers and 22 points. Harris added 15 points.
Hawaii outscored Auburn 25-9 from the free throw line.
"When you have a 9-point lead in the second half, you've got to get stops," Pearl said. "We did not get stops in large stretches out there."
Auburn led 30-29 at the half, but a 10-2 run by Hawaii to start the second half turned the momentum. For a few minutes. Brown's sixth 3-pointer put Auburn up 44-42 with 12:57 remaining.
Auburn started the game slowly, but a sudden 10-point run gave the Tigers an 18-16 lead with 8:17 left in the first half. Bryce Brown's fourth 3-pointer of the first half gave Auburn a 26-21 lead. The Tigers led 30-29 at halftime, despite the fact Canty and Bowers combined to make just one of 10 shots.
Auburn returns to action on Jan 2 against Tennessee in its SEC opener. Tipoff in Auburn Arena is 1 p.m. on CBS.
"Are we prepared to be able to compete in the SEC? I think our team is," Pearl said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
@AuburnMBB but vs Harvard :(
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) December 26, 2015