AUBURN, AL (WLBT) - Tyson Carter and Quinndary Weatherspoon combined for 34 of their 46 points during the second half, but Auburn was able to fend off Mississippi State’s comeback effort by an 80-75 margin on Saturday at Auburn Arena.
The Bulldogs (21-8, 9-7 SEC) had their five-game winning streak snapped. The setback placed Mississippi State into a four-way tie for fifth place with Auburn, Ole Miss and South Carolina in the SEC standings. All four teams trail Florida by a half-game who faces Georgia later this evening.
Weatherspoon turned in a solid all-around effort with 25 points, 11 rebounds and equaled a season’s best with six assists. The 25 points vaulted Weatherspoon into third place on MSU’s all-time scoring list past Jim Ashmore (1954-55-56-57). It marked only the second time in 20 games that the Bulldogs were defeated when Weatherspoon scores 20-plus points over the last two seasons.
For Carter, he pumped in 21 points aided by a career-high six three-pointers which all came during the second 20 minutes. The Starkville native has secured 20-plus points in back-to-back games. He added two assists and two steals.
Reggie Perry collected his seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and tied a season-high with 14 rebounds. It marked the 10th time in the last 11 games that Perry has dialed up double digit points. Five of his game-leading 14 rebounds were on the offensive end.
Aric Holman and Robert Woodard II checked in with nine points and six points, respectively, en route to all 15 of MSU’s bench points. Lamar Peters registered four points, two assists and two steals.
The Bulldogs dominated the glass with a 41-21 advantage and tallied 14 of the game’s 15 offensive rebounds. However, Auburn (20-9, 9-7 SEC) was able to counteract that by forcing Mississippi State into 18 turnovers. The Tigers also came away with a 20-9 edge in points off turnovers.
FROM THE BENCH WITH COACH HOWLAND
“Obviously, not the final result we wanted, tough loss tonight. Being down 19, our team had incredible fight to come back and have a chance in the last minute of the game. That was a big shot by [Bryce] Brown in the corner. Give Auburn credit. I know Auburn defensively played incredibly hard today and forced a lot of our turnovers. We had 18 turnovers. Usually, you win the battle of the boards by 20, and you win the game. The 18 turnovers were killers because it led to 20 of their points. A fourth of their points were off of our turnovers. [Bryce] Brown, obviously, made big shots all night long. [Jared] Harper had a fantastic game with nine assists and zero turnovers. He played really, really well. Those two guards have been good together for the last few years here. They were, again, incredible today.”
“I’m really proud of our team in terms of the fight. To be down 19 and to make a run to come back where we had a chance, literally in the last minute. We needed a couple of more things to go right to win. It makes you feel really proud of our guys for their fight and for their effort to go out there and continue to fight for 40 minutes – it’s big.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Auburn used a trio of three-pointers to build an 11-2 advantage during the opening 3:32 of the contest. The Bulldogs pulled back to 18-16 with 8:00 remaining after consecutive floaters from Tyson Carter and Quinndary Weatherspoon 22 seconds apart.
Auburn fired back 10 of the next 11 points to go up by double figures. Chuma Okeke ignited the flurry with a traditional three-point play and capped the run with a layup to make it 28-17 at the 3:12 mark.
The Tigers would take a 33-25 lead into the locker room and went back ahead by double figures on a Bryce Brown layup to open the second-half scoring.
Auburn would extend its lead to as many as 19 points at 69-50 on an Anfernee McLemore trey with 6:20 to go.
The Bulldogs would begin their comeback effort on a Carter deep three-pointer on the right wing. He would tack on two more triples which brought margin down to 71-64 with 3:10 left.
Mississippi State got as close as 71-67 after Weatherspoon converted on a pair of free throws. He was fouled after securing an offensive rebound. The Bulldogs had a chance to get closer, but Carter’s late shot clock midrange jumper was short.
On the ensuing possession, Jared Harper connected with Brown for a corner trey to stretch the advantage back to seven points. Auburn salted away the five-point decision and knocked down all four of its free throws inside the last 24 seconds.
For the contest, MSU hit 24-of-55 shots from the field (43.6 percent), 10-of-30 shots from three-point range (33.3 percent) and 17-of-25 shots from the foul line (68.0 percent).
Auburn countered with a 24-of-51 mark from the field (47.1 percent), a 13-of-30 mark from three-point range (43.3 percent) and a 19-of-23 mark from the foul line (82.6 percent).
Mississippi State had 13 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Tigers had 16 assists and 10 turnovers.
Auburn was sparked by Brown (24 points) followed by McLemore (14 points), Okeke (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Harper (10 points, 9 assists).
The Bulldogs travel to SEC co-leader and No. 7 Tennessee for their last SEC road outing of 2018-19 on Tuesday. Tip time is slated for 8 p.m. CT from Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will be televised by SEC Network and available online through the WatchESPN platform.