No. 20 Texas A&M races to 81-63 win over Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Texas A&M set up a huge season finale with voracious rebounding and a 20-point onslaught.
Danuel House scored 19 points and the 20th-ranked Aggies chased down one offensive rebound after another in a come-from-behind 81-63 victory over Auburn on Tuesday night.
Now, they will play for their first league championship in 30 years.
The Aggies (23-7, 12-5 Southeastern Conference) remain tied with Kentucky for the league lead going into the regular season finale Saturday against Vanderbilt. Texas A&M is seeking its first regular-season title since sharing the Southwest Conference championship with Texas and TCU in 1985-86 and would win the tiebreaker after beating the Wildcats on Feb. 20.
“I know it’s a big game,” Texas A&M center Tyler Davis said. “I’m really going to go out there and play for my guys, my team, especially the seniors. They deserve a special night and an SEC title for the team because we work so hard. I really can’t wait to play.”
The Aggies trailed the Tigers (11-18, 5-12) by as many as 11 points in the first half before racing back, overcoming icy shooting by gobbling up rebounds for their fifth straight win. They took charge with a 26-3 onslaught fueled partly by a series of dunks and carrying into the second half.
“They played like champions like we knew they would,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Disappointed that we didn’t come out of the locker room to win that game. We let them continue to physically take it to us. They scored on their first five or six possessions and took control of the game.
“They just physically dominated us.”
Jalen Jones had 16 points and eight rebounds while Davis scored 14 and had nine rebounds for the Aggies. Alex Caruso had only five points but padded the stat sheet with nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Admon Gilder scored 10 points.
Texas A&M outrebounded Auburn 51-27 and grabbed 21 offensive boards.
The Aggies set the stage for the high-stakes home showdown. Coach Billy Kennedy said he didn’t need to spell that out for his players.
“I don’t have to tell them anything,” Kennedy said. “They knew this was a big game for us because this was in the way of that. I thought once we settled in, we played well.”
Tyler Harris led Auburn with 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. TJ Lang had 10 points for the Tigers.
The Aggies fell behind after missing 12 consecutive shots during a scoring drought of more than 6 minutes. They scored the final eight points before the half and the initial 12 afterward.
Anthony Collins set up two straight dunks with passes and hit a jump shot to fuel the end-of-half run that tied it at 33-33. It only took a few more minutes after that to turn it into a double-digit game the other way.
The Aggies had 17 offensive rebounds by halftime, when Auburn had only 12 altogether. Cinmeon Bowers came in averaging 10 boards but only got half that.
Texas A&M missed all 10 3-point attempts in the first half but made half of its 10 attempts after coming out of the locker room. The Tigers started 6 of 15.
Texas A&M: Finishes 5-4 in SEC road games. Made 24 of 26 free throws (92 percent).
Auburn: It was the final home game for Auburn seniors Bowers, Jordon Granger and Harris. Bowers was held to four points.
Texas A&M hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Auburn visits Mississippi State on Saturday night.