FORT WORTH, Texas – Freshman Austin Wiley scored 21 of his career-high 25 points in the second half to lead Auburn to an 88-80 win at TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Schollmaier Arena on Saturday.
The Tigers used a commanding 25-2 run midway through the second half to take an 80-59 lead with 5:19 remaining as the offense and defense were clicking. Wiley scored nine straight points for the Tigers and 11 of their first 15 to open the second period.
“That’s probably the best we’ve competed this year,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “I thought that our run in the second half where we turned up the defense a little bit and created some offense out of our defense was a big factor.
“The fact that we were able to get to the rim. I thought our guards were patient in getting the ball to Austin and to Anfernee, and we finished at the rim. That was a big factor.”
Freshman Mustapha Heron scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half while Jared Harper added 13 points and four assists in only 19 minutes with early foul trouble.
“It feels great,” said Wiley. “The team played phenomenal. We just have to keep picking it up and keep playing hard. I am sick a little bit, but I just tried to come out and help my team. Everybody helped me out by playing great. I am just proud of everybody.”
Anfernee McLemore added 13 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes while T.J. Dunans had seven rebounds, seven assists, four points, three blocks and three steals.
“T.J. Dunans was a stat sheet stuffer,” said Pearl.
The Tigers went 3-0 vs. the Big 12 Conference this season with the win over TCU, who came in with an RPI of 36, while also defeating Texas Tech 67-65 in the Cancun Challenge and vs. 2016 Final Four participant Oklahoma 74-70 in the Hall of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball.
The Tigers have four true road wins this season, the most since 2008-09 and tied for the most this year in the SEC with Florida.
Auburn shot 54 percent from the floor and outrebounded TCU 38-36 while assisting on 23 of its 36 made field goals. The Tigers held the Horned Frogs to 41 percent shooting from the floor after they were 61 percent in the opening period.
Heron was on fire early with nine points, leading the Tigers to a 20-14 lead. The Tigers led for most of the first half as Anfernee McLemore’s dunk gave Auburn a 45-43 edge at intermission behind Heron’s 15 points.
Auburn won for the fourth time in six games to improve to 14-7, 3-5 SEC while TCU fell to 14-7, 3-5 Big 12.
TCU was led by Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson’s 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Vlad Brodziansky’s 19 points and eight boards.
After closing out regular season non-conference play, Auburn plays host to Tennessee (12-9, 4-4), who defeated Kansas State 70-58 for its third straight win on Saturday, on Tuesday at 8 pm CT on the SEC Network.
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