Auburn, Ala.--Cold-shooting Auburn couldn’t put together a sustained offensive run on Saturday night as the Tigers dropped a 79-68 SEC basketball contest at Auburn Arena to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Auburn dropped to 17-12 for the season and 6-10 in the SEC. Arkansas improved to 22-7 overall and 11-5 in the SEC.
The Tigers shot just 37.1 percent from the field on a night the visitors made an even 50 percent of their 58 field goals.
Arkansas also helped its cause by out-rebounding the Tigers by eight.
Auburn got 17 points from freshman guard Jared Harper and 16 points from freshman guard Mustapha Heron, who added six rebounds. Heron hit 5-10 field goals and was 2-3 on threes. Harper was 6-13 from the field and 3-6 on threes. No other Auburn player scored in double figures..
Heron noted Auburn’s problem was more on offense than defense. “We covered their stuff pretty well. We didn’t have the right spacing and patience the whole game.”
Mustapha Heron looks for an opening in the Arkansas defense.
Arkansas got 20 points from junior guard Jaylen Barford and 18 from senior guard Dusty Hannahs.
Auburn doubled the Razorbacks on three-pointers, hitting 10-24 to 5-17 for Arkansas. However, the visitors had an advantage at the foul line making 16-20 while the Tigers were 12-23.
“I thought our preparation was good, but we just didn’t execute,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who noted his team wasn’t effective attacking the Arkansas zone defense.
Pearl said that he was most disappointed that the Tigers haven’t done a good job of “defending their home court” this season and Saturday night was an example of that.
Auburn’s coach noted that his players really wanted to get a signature win on their homecourt and the postgame locker room was a very down one. “You can’t beat a team as good as Arkansas making 52 percent of your foul shots,” Pearl said.
Arkansas led for close to 12 minutes in the opening half and was on top 40-31 at halftime, one point off its largest lead in the period. Auburn led by as many as five points early in the period.
The visitors built their halftime margin by out-shooting and out-rebounding Auburn, which made 11-28 field goals (39.3 percent), 5-11 threes and 4-8 free throws. The Razorbacks made 16-33 field goals (48.5 percent), 3-11 threes and 5-8 foul shots while out-rebounding the Tigers 21-17.
Barford of Arkansas led all scorers at the break with 10 points while Heron led Auburn with seven points.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said, “I thought we did a good job of limiting them on second shots...A lot of guys played well.
“We are having more guys playing a high level,” Anderson added. “We are becoming a dangerous team.”
Anderson said that when Auburn cut the second half lead to six points in the second half a pull-up jump shot by Hannahs followed by a three-pointer by the senior guard changed the momentum.
Arkansas out-scored the Tigers 39-37 in the second as Razorbacks made 13-25 second half shots and AU made 12-34.
Worth Noting, Part 1: Austin Wiley continues his recent struggles offensively. He was 0-3 from the field and 3-7 at the foul line in 17 minutes. His backup, Anfernee McLemore, played 23 minutes and scored eight points while adding eight rebounds.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Auburn only turned the ball over seven times, five fewer times than the visitors, but the Tigers were only plus three in points scored off of turnovers.
Stat of the Game: Auburn was outscored 36-24 for points in the paint.
Up Next: The Tigers will play at Georgia at 5:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday.