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Tiger Trio: Auburn basketball takeaways after 'a great win' for first-place Tigers
<em> Bryce Brown scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half in Auburn's 79-70 win at Ole Miss. Photo: Thomas Graning</em>
Bryce Brown scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half in Auburn's 79-70 win at Ole Miss. Photo: Thomas Graning
Jan. 31, 2018

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn enters the second half of Southeastern Conference play with a firm grip on first place, leading Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee by two games in the loss column.

The No. 11 Tigers beat Ole Miss 79-70 Tuesday in Oxford, improving to 20-2 and 8-1 in the SEC.

“If you look at the back half of our schedule, it’s daunting,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We understand that. You’ve got to win the games you can. Alabama and Florida, who are in contention, came in here and lost. We talked to our team about the opportunity that most teams in this league aren’t going to do. From that standpoint, it’s a great win.”

Here are three takeaways from Auburn’s fourth straight win and fourth SEC road victory.

Fearless Bryce

After scoring four points in the first half, Bryce Brown exploded for 19 in the second to finish with a game-high 23, his sixth 20-point game of the season.

“I just felt like I had to be more aggressive,” said Brown, whose 16.6 average leads Auburn. “In the second half, I was being in attack mode. In the first half, we didn’t play as good of defense as I thought we should have. I thought we locked it down and did that late in the game in the second half.”

Brown was 3-for-7 on 3-point shots, moving into fifth place on Auburn’s all-time list with 209.

“Bryce Brown knocked down a few shots and we got some stops,” Pearl said. “Bryce has got a different gear. He’s got a confidence and a swagger. He’s fearless.”

Assistance required

Jared Harper continued his exemplary production at point guard, handing out seven assists with only one turnover in 35 minutes.

 

 

“[Jared] had to play heavy minutes,” Pearl said. “Davion Mitchell and Bryce were in foul trouble in the first half. Jared played 19 minutes in the first half.”

Harper’s 120 assists rank second in the SEC behind Florida’s Chris Chiozza, as does Jared’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9.

Harper added 13 points, including 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, his 14th straight game in double figures and 10th game with at least seven assists this season.

Another noteworthy statistic was Auburn’s 42-41 rebounding advantage. When the Tigers outrebound their opponent, Auburn is 15-1.

Desean Murray, Auburn’s leading rebounder, raised his average to 7.1 by grabbing a game-high 10 boards, including five offensive rebounds.

20 wins by February

With nine games and one month remaining in the regular season, Auburn reached the 20-win mark for the 10th time in program history.

Auburn’s most recent 20-win season occurred in 2008-09.

“I think it’s trust. I think it’s relying on teammates,” Pearl said. “We’ve got pretty good chemistry from that standpoint. We share the basketball. That’s a great compliment. Not every team can pull that off.”

Seeking to stay in the driver’s seat in the race for the SEC championship and earn win No. 21, Auburn hosts Vanderbilt Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT on SECN.

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

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