Conway, S.C.--Surviving a shaky finish, Auburn improved to 4-1 as the Tigers held on for an 81-78 basketball victory over Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night at HTC Arena.
Six players scored in double figures for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers, led by 21 points and 12 points from senior forward Tyler Harris.
The Tigers got two free throws with 11.7 seconds left from Kareem Canty to help ice the victory in their first road game of the season.
Auburn led by 18 points midway through the second half, but lost its shooting touch late in the game allowing the home team to steadily cut into the lead
The Tigers’ lead dropped to under double figures with 3:11 to play and down to a single point when Elijah Wilson nailed a three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining. Wilson, who led all scorers with 25 points, made 6-10 threes.
Unable to get a steal after Wilson’s shot, the Chanticleers fouled Canty, who despite an off-night shooting the ball hit both of his free throws. Going into the game he was making just under 93 percent of his free throws and calmly hit both with the game on the line.
“It was survival because were discombobulated,” Pearl said of his team’s finish. “We are going to learn a lot from it and we are going to grow.
Pearl said a team with “lesser talent and lesser character” that didn’t “stay together” late in the game might have lost to Coastal Carolina, which dropped to 3-4 on the season. Last year the Chanticleers won 58-54 at Auburn.
“I thought we started the second half extremely well defensively,” Pearl said. “My staff did a great job with the game plan and the defensive preparation was good. They shot 40 percent.”
Auburn hit 43.6 percent of its shots and was 11-31 on three-pointers and 22-33 at the foul line. Coastal Carolina made 8-28 threes and 20-30 free throws. Each team had 39 rebounds and the Tigers turned the ball over 13 times, one less than the home team. Each team had 26 personal fouls.
“We fouled too much and there were some really very interesting calls out there,” Pearl said. “I am going to watch the tape and see what that is like. Our team definitely hung in there and learned a lot from it.”
Coach Bruce Pearl had high praise for the coaching job done by Cliff Ellis, to rally his Coastal Carolia team late in the contest.
The coach said he liked what he saw from his leading scorer and rebounder, Harris, a transfer from Providence.
“Tyler Harris was terrific,” said Pearl, who added that he liked the six-foot-ten forward’s toughness. “He has never been known as a tough guy,” the coach said. “Tyler is playing tougher this year than he has in the past, and I need him to continue to do that. His toughness has turned into a pretty darn good line.”
Harris said he was happy the Tigers were able to hold on for the victory. “It was a real good road win for us,” said the graduate transfer, who had his second double-double as a Tiger. “We were able to stick with it and finish strong.”
Cinmeon Bowers and Bryce Brown each scored 12 points while T.J. Dunans added 10 points and five assists as he played point guard in addition to his two-guard assignment.
Coastal Carolina took an early 6-2 lead, but the Tigers scored 11 consecutive points to take a lead they would never lose.
Auburn led the rest of the half and built their advantage to double figures for the first time on a three by T.J. Lang with 2:23 left in the half. The biggest lead in the period was 12 on an inside basket by Harris with 1:43 to play.
The Chanticleers cut the halftime margin to 44-37 after two fouls were called on one play in the closing seconds--a personal foul on Lang and a technical on Bowers, a ruling that Pearl protested to no avail. After the technical foul Coastal scored on a rebound.
The Tigers quickly built the lead back into double figures after halftime by outscoring Coasta Carolina 18-9.. With 10:25 on the clock the Tigers were on top 69-51 after a pair of free throws by Harris, but the visitors managed to score just 12 points after that.
Worth Noting: Bowers, who shot made less than 50 percent of his free throws last season, hit the second of two foul shots with 33.9 seconds left to put Auburn up 79-75 after the home team fouled him in purpose. Pearl said he was glad to see the senior make the much-needed free throw, especially after he had missed two attempts with 43.5 seconds left.
Pearl said, “Did I want Kareem giving him the ball in that situation? No, but Kareem got trapped and we didn’t have very good spacing. There is just a ton I can work on to help this team improve.”
Worth Noting, Part 2: T.J. Lang's 14 points were a career high for the sophomore from Mobile. He made 5-10 field goals, including 4-8 three-pointers.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Canty and Dunans have scored in double figures in each of Auburn’s games this season.
Stat of the Game: Auburn led for 36 minutes and two seconds while Coastal Carolina was ahead for just under three minutes, all in the opening minutes.
Up Next: Auburn is off until a Dec. 12th road trip to Nashville where they will play Middle Tennessee State in a game at Bridgestone Arena.