Moody scores 23, Ole Miss holds off Auburn 69-59
Feb. 21, 2016
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Stefan Moody, all 5-foot-10 of him, rose up and flushed home a thunderous dunk, silencing Auburn Arena, barely a half-minute into the second half.
He lived up to his billing as the highest per-game scorer in the SEC, pouring in 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting to propel Ole Miss past Auburn on Saturday 69-59.
The Rebels got off to a slow start as Auburn jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first couple of minutes. But they outscored the Tigers 31-17 over the next 10 minutes, and took a 40-33 lead into the half.
Auburn started to chip away at the lead in the second half, but every time the Tigers canned a 3 or converted a layup, Moody and the Rebels were right there to extend the lead once more.
Moody led everyone in scoring, but Marcanvis Hymon and Tomasz Gielo each poured in double-digit points, including Gielo's three 3-pointers that stunted Auburn runs.
Auburn outrebounded Ole Miss by 10, but the key to coach Andy Kennedy's squad winning lied in the defense. He continually switched up the defensive looks he threw at the Tigers who are without a true point guard following the departure of Kareem Canty.
"When you're going up against a team that changes defense like Ole Miss does," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said, "You have to go from breaking pressure and attack mode to getting yourself organized and getting into some structure, and we didn't as a team."
Ole Miss forced 16 turnovers, largely in part because Kennedy schemed to keep Cinmeon Bowers' playmaking ability in check.
"They're playing Cinmeon Bowers at the 1," Kennedy said. "And even though he is a matchup nightmare because he is a skilled guy at the perimeter with his size — he has 18 rebounds, and some of that is the fact that we tried to guard him with a smaller guy — but we just wanted to change our looks. If we would've given him a steady diet of the same thing, he would've used his strength to put us at a disadvantage, so we just tried to keep him confused, him not being a full-time point."
Tyler Harris led Auburn with 13 points and pulled in seven rebounds, but he exited the game with 16:36 to play after getting hammered on a layup and suffering a concussion. After Harris went to the locker room, the Tigers could feel the game slip away.
"It was hard, man," Bowers said. "I just felt like we gave up a little bit with like 10 minutes left."
Despite clawing back to within five points with 6:31 remaining on the clock, Ole Miss held the Tigers to just three more points down the stretch — a free throw and layup by T.J. Dunans — while the Rebels tacked on eight points to seal it.
Bowers racked up his 12th double-double of the year — and third in a row — with 11 points and 18 rebounds, but it wasn't enough.
Auburn was aided by the return of guard Dunans who had been out since December with a knee injury he suffered against Harvard. He was just 3 for 7 from the field and had four turnovers, as he consistently drew the assignment of guarding Moody.
Ole Miss: The Rebels have won eight in a row against Auburn, dating back to 2012.
Auburn: Tyler Harris, according to Pearl, suffered a concussion in the second half. He will be evaluated soon.
Bryce Brown and TJ Lang combined to shoot 14-20 from beyond the arc in Auburn's win against Arkansas on Wednesday, but the two shot just 4-16 on Saturday. Brown set a school record for points by a freshman with 27, but managed just nine points against Ole Miss.
Ole Miss hosts Missouri on Tuesday.
Auburn hosts Georgia on Wednesday.