Auburn, Ala.--Total domination of the boards throughout the game and strong shooting in the second half sparked Texas A&M to an 81-63 SEC basketball victory over the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday night.
The Aggies stayed in first place in the SEC by out-rebounding the Tigers 51-27 to ruin Senior Night for the home team.
The Aggies also helped their cause by making 50 percent of their field goals in the first half after hitting just 34.1 percent in the opening period.
Texas A&M, a 66 percent free throw shooting team for the season, nailed 22-24 (92.3 percent) foul shots to help the visitors to a comfortable margin of victory.
“Texas A&M played like a champion,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They turned it on in the second half like you knew they would.
“I am disappointed that we didn’t come out of the locker room (in the second half) to win that game,” he said. “We let them continually take it to us. They scored the first five or six possessions and took control of the game and then we had a letdown.”
Bruce Pearl signals a play on Tuesday night.
Pearl was particularly upset that his team allowed the Aggies to get so many extra scoring opportunities because of the rebounding numbers.
The Aggies launched 65 shots, 10 more than the Tigers, thanks to 21 offensive rebounds and 30 defensive rebounds. Auburn had seven offensive rebounds and 20 defensive rebounds.
“There is no excuse for 21 offensive rebounds and 20 defensive rebounds,” Pearl said. “They just physically dominated us and there is no excuse for that because we have plenty of size and plenty of seniors, but they manhandled us.”
Five Aggies scored in double figures led by 19 points from senior guard Danuel House. Jalen Jones added 16 points and eight rebounds while Tyler Davis scored 14 pints while chipping in with nine rebounds.
Tyler Harris, who hit 8-14 field goals, led Auburn with 20 points and eight rebounds. However, the graduate student transfer was not pleased with his performance.
“I didn’t think I?played well at all,” said Harris. “There were a lot of things I could have done better to keep us in the game all the way to the end.”
The six-foot-ten lefthander thanked the fans for their support throughout the season. “The fans have been great, each and every game,” he said. “I thank the fans so much for just welcoming me into this home and welcoming me here into the Auburn community. They have been great with so much support personally for me, and even for my team. I love being able to play in that arena.”
T.J. Lang scored 10 points for the Tigers while Jordon Granger and T.J. Dunans added eight points apiece.
The Tigers led for 15 minutes and 22 seconds in the first half, building the margin to double figures at 29-19 on a three by Granger. The biggest lead came at the 5:28 mark after a free throw by Horace Spencer put the Tigers up by 11 points.
The Aggies outscored Auburn 14-4 the rest of the half to tie the game at 33-33 at the break.
Halftime Numbers: The Tigers managed to stay even with the Aggies despite being out-rebounded 32-12 in the first 20 minutes. Auburn hit 12-28 field goals for 42.9 percent and was 6-15 on threes and 3-4 at the foul line. The Aggies hit 14-41 first half shots and were 0-10 on threes and 5-5 at the foul line. Granger led the Tigers in scoring with eight first half while Jalen Jones scored 10 for the Aggies.
Texas A&M outscored Auburn 12-2 to start the second half and led the rest of the way. The Aggies built the margin to as many as 22 points despite shooting just 40 percent from the field for the game.
Both teams shot 40 percent from the field. Auburn was 7-27 on threes while A&M made 5-20. Auburn had 11 turnovers, two less than the visitors. The Aggies enjoyed margins of 23-14 in bench points and 38-24 for points in the paint.
Auburn's record dropped to 11-18 overall and 5-12 in the SEC. The Aggies remain in first place with a 12-5 league mark and are 23-7 overall.
"They gave us some problems defensively, but we setteld down at the end of the first half," Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said. "When we went to our zone it helped us."
Pearls said normally the Tigers get excited about facing a zone defense, but struggled to shoot against on Tuesday night.
Cinmeon Bowers finished with four points and five rebounds while taking just four shots on his Senior Night.
Worth Noting, Part 1: T.J. Dunans did not start for the Tigers due to a thigh bruise. Pearl said he didn’t know until close to game time that the junior guard would be able to play. “To T.J.’s credit he just lives in the training room,” the coach said.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Fans had to endure an obnoxious flashing emergency lights and ringing alarms throughout much of the game after there was a tornado warning in the Auburn area. “It was kind of weird when it first happened,” Harris said. “After then it was blocked out.”
Stat of the Game: Auburn’s rebound deficit of 24 was its worst of the season.
Up Next: The Tigers will close the regular season with a 1:30 p.m. game at Mississippi State on Saturday.