11 hours ago
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama- With Auburn fans bringing a taste of the jungle to Legacy Arena, the ninth-seeded Tigers exploded for 52 points in the second half and held off Iowa 83-75 Thursday in the first round of the tournament. NCAA.
Johni Broome and Allen Flanigan produced double-doubles to lead six Tigers in double digits. Auburn built a 17-point lead with 10:50 left before the Hawkeyes closed the gap in the streak.
“Johni had a tough game and he won his game, which was really important,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who improved to 7-3 in NCAA Tournament games at Auburn. , tying Sonny Smith for most tournament wins in program history. “I’m really happy for Allen, he’s playing his best basketball on the big stage right now.”
Broome led the Tigers with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Flanigan added 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
“We knew they weren’t going to leave,” Broome said. “We leaned on each other to box, rebound and challenge shots, and that’s what we did to finish the game.”
Wendell Green Jr. scored 10 points in the final four and a half minutes to hold off the Hawkeyes. He finished with 15 points. Jaylin Williams, Tre Donaldson and KD Johnson each added 11 points.
After a low-scoring first half, the Tigers came out firing in the second half, scoring 18 of their first 20 points from behind the 3-point line while building a 12-point lead.
Williams hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the half. After the Hawkeyes responded with a 3, Broome hit a 3, then Johnson hit a pair of open 3s in transition, and Donaldson hit two straight runs to put the Tigers ahead 51-39.
“He’s got a tenacity, a swag, a confidence,” Pearl said of Donaldson. “He didn’t look like a freshman at all. It’s very important that your bench plays well in the playoffs. KD gave us such a spark coming off the bench.”
When Iowa called timeout, the chants of “Let’s Go Auburn!” cascading in the arena.
“They came deep and heavy,” Flanigan said of the Auburn fan presence. “They were loud and rowdy the whole game. It was like a home game for us.”
Flangian’s coast-to-coast layup gave Auburn a 58-41 lead before the Hawkeyes snapped a comeback, shooting within four points with five minutes left after a 7-0 run .
“We knew they would come back,” Pearl said. “It was a little tight. We had saves, we had rebounds and 50-50 balls.”
That’s when Green got to work, scoring twice on drives and going 6-on-6 from the line to close out the win.
“Wendell was a great general on the ground,” Pearl said. “I think our bench played very well. Our speed and quickness was a defensive factor.”
The Auburn point guards played a huge role in the second half, Donaldson and Green combining for 21 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. with four assists and one turnover.
Auburn scored nine points answered to take a 21-12 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.
Johnson started the race with a tough shot down the lane. After back-to-back buckets from Broome, Chris Moore stole and passed to Green for a 3-pointer, the only 3 for either team in the half.
After a 6-0 run in Iowa, Green stole the ball and launched Dylan Cardwell for a slam alley-oop that ignited the pro-Auburn crowd.
The Tigers led 31-26 at halftime thanks to eight points and six rebounds from Broome, and six points and seven rebounds from Flanigan.
“Keeping them at 26 in the half was a great effort,” Pearl said.
By winning its first-round game for the 11th straight NCAA Tournament, Auburn advances to Saturday’s second round and will face seeded winner Houston against Northern Kentucky.