Austin Wiley (above) dunks for the Tigers vs. the Horned Frogs.
Fort Worth, Tex.--Freshman center Austin Wiley scored a season-high 25 points while adding seven rebounds to lead the Auburn Tigers to an 88-80 basketball victory over TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Wiley hit 11-13 field goals, 3-7 free throws as the Tigers improved their basketball record to 14-7. The Horned Frogs dropped to 14-7.
In addition to Wiley, three other Auburn freshmen scored in double figures on Saturday as Mustapha Heron finished with 17 points while Jared Harper and Anfernee McLemore added 13 points apiece.
Freshmen scored 71 of Auburn's 88 points while hitting 29-41 shots.
“It is a great win for our program, a great win for our team,’ Wiley said. “It was a real confidence-booster.”
Wiley, who joined the team just before Christmas, said, “It feels great. The team played phenomenal. We just have to keep picking it up and keep playing hard. I am sick a little bit, but I just tried to come out and help my team. Everybody helped me out by playing great. I am just proud of everybody.”
Senior T.J. Dunans contributed just four points, but dished out seven assists while adding seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
“He just played an incredible floor game,” Coach Bruce Pearl said of Dunans. “He is the glue.”
T.J. Dunans attacks the basket on Saturday night.
Pearl added, “We just got a lot of contributions. We had nine guys in double-digit minutes...It was a good team effort. Our guys competed and played harder.”
Auburn led most of the game and took the lead for good at the 16:03 mark at 55-53 on a basket by Wiley.
The Tigers built the lead to as many as 21 points at 80-59 on a stuff by Wiley with under six minutes to play.
Auburn out-rebounded the home team 38-36 and turned the ball over 19 times, one more than TCU.
Both teams shot the ball well. Auburn hit 36-67 field goals (53.7 percent) while the Horned Frogs made 33-65 (50.8 percent).
Auburn made 4-15 threes and TCU was 5-20. The Tigers hit 12-20 free throws while TCU made 9-20 at the foul line.
Alex Robinson, a transfer from TCU, led TCU in scoring with 20 points while Vlad Brodazianksi added 19.
Auburn led for 11:48 in first half and built the margin to as many as eight points at the 11:31 mark on a basket by Ronnie Johnson to make the score 22-14.
TCU’s largest lead in the opening half was three points as the Horned Frogs hit their opening shot of the game.
Auburn led 47-45 at halftime with both teams shooting well. Heron led the Tigers with 15 points as he hit 6-10 field goals while his team made 19-35 field goals for 54.3 percent.
The Horned Frogs shot even better, hitting 19-31 for 61.3 percent in the first half that included seven lead changes. Brodziansky led TCU in first half points with 11. Auburn was plus one in rebounding margin at the break and both teams had seven turnovers.
Anfernee McLemore listens to instructions from Coach Bruce Pearl.
Talking about his improvement, Wiley said, “I have gotten more comfortable with my teammates.” Asked about the team’s performance vs. the Horned Frogs, he said, “We prepared well for this team and we kept working.”
Pearl was pleased, too, particularly with his team's 25-2 run in the second half to take command. "That is probably the best we’ve competed this year,” he said. “I thought that our run in the second half where we turned up the defense a little bit and created some offense out of our defense was a big factor.
“The fact that we were able to get to the rim. I thought our guards were patient in getting the ball to Austin and to Anfernee, and we finished at the rim. That was a big factor.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: It was the fourth win on an opponent’s homecourt for the Tigers, the most since 2008-09 season.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Auburn finished with 23 assisted baskets on 36 field goals, a point of emphasis for Pearl going into the contest.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Pearl pointed out that Danjel Purifoy is still not 100 percent physically and noted that Horace Spencer had an off game at the position. “We have got to get better play at the four spot,” he said.
Stat of the Game: Anfernee McLemore was 6-6 from the field. Combined with Wiley the Auburn centers made 17-19 field goal attempts.
Up Next: The Tigers play an 8 p.m. CST home game on Tuesday vs. Tennessee.