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'A treat for our fans': Tiger takeaways from Auburn's dominant win over UConn
The Jungle. Auburn basketball vs UConn on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics
Dec. 23, 2017


By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - With Southeastern Conference play looming, Auburn's 11-1 start is attracting attention from the college basketball community. A 25-point victory over a team that's won four national championships in the past two decades will do that.

"We were brought here to bring credibility and competiveness to men's basketball," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Saturday after the Tigers' 89-64 win over UConn. "It's a big win for our program. The focus is on the kids. They're the ones who have stayed together."

Here are three takeaways from Auburn's ninth consecutive win.

Ho Ho Horace

Wearing a bandage over his left eye – a "battle wound" as he referred to it – Horace Spencer pored over the stat sheet before concluding, "We played great."

Spencer did his part, leading Auburn with 10 rebounds while scoring nine points, adding three blocks and two steals.

"We're just putting our legacy down," said Spencer of himself and fellow junior Bryce Brown. "We're paving the road for the guys coming after us."

Auburn outscored UConn 39-24 in bench points. A starter in the first six games, Spencer has responded well to coming off the bench, sharing the center position with Anfernee McLemore.

"I know that Anfernee can hold it down in the post," Spencer said. "I felt I've just got to be right and ready. Stay in the gym, work on my shots and just be positive, and just these last two games show what I can do, what I'm capable of doing."

"Horace Spencer didn't drop his effort, attitude, leadership, his toughness one bit," Pearl said. "And when other teammates see that, when a team sees that, that's contagious."

Davion and Defense

Emphasizing defense after struggling to shut down opponents last season, Auburn's defensive improvement included holding the Huskies to 25 percent shooting in the first half, just 18.2 percent on 3-pointers.

Freshman guard Davion Mitchell prides himself on his defense.

"We've got some guys who identify with guarding," Pearl said. "Defense and rebounding will carry you a long way."

Mitchell scored 10 points in 15 minutes while contributing four assists with just one turnover.

"Davion Mitchell had a terrific game tonight," Pearl said. "What a floor game. Made some shots and defended equally as well."

Pearl also praised Brown for his defense on UConn leading scorer Jalen Adams after battling a head cold that prevented Bown from practicing all week. Adams, who averages 18.6 points, scored 14 on 5-of-15 shooting.

Beating UConn

Auburn's victory reached a national audience on ESPN 2, attracted by UConn's brand name and pedigree.

"We were excited about playing them," Pearl said. "What a treat for our fans to see UConn, and to see our Auburn team not only belong on the floor with them, but we outplayed them tonight."

"Having a chance to beat them is a big thing," Mitchell said. "All of their good point guards who came through there, Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier. Having a chance to beat them is a blessing."

"Auburn was able to get two wins over a storied program in the last couple years," Pearl said. "We've made progress. We've got a long way to go, but it's a really nice way to jump into the holidays."

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

 

 

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