Athens, Ga.--Jared Harper’s buzz-beater jump shot was off target allowing Georgia to hold on for a 79-78 SEC basketball win on Wednesday night and a sweep of the season series vs. the Auburn Tigers..
A three-pointer by Danjel Purifoy with 1:07 left, two free throws by Purifoy with 37 seconds left and a stolen pass by the redshirt freshman gave the Tigers a chance to win. Auburn called a timeout with 7.5 seconds left with the ball in the frontcourt. Harper got an uncontested three-point shot that hit the front of the rim to end the game.
“We got a clean look, a good look,” Pearl said of the final shot. “Jared coming off that (screen) was clean as a whistle. T.J. Lang had the dribble handoff option. If Lang felt like he could have kept it and gone all the way there was time for him to take it in for two. We weren’t trying to get a three.
“The first look was for Dunans to get a layup,” Pearl said. “I actually thought they really held him as he cut...so we didn’t have the layup.”
Auburn dropped to 17-13 for the season and 6-11 in the SEC. Georgia improved to 18-12 overall and 9-8 in the league thanks to 31 points from senior guard J.J. Frazier, who led UGA’s comeback from a 16-point first half deficit.
Six Auburn players scored in double figures led by 15 from Byrce Brown. Mustapha Heron scored 13 points while adding nine rebounds. Purifoy chipped in with 12 points while T.J. Lang, Austin Wiley and T.J. Dunans each finished with 10 points.
The Tigers made 27-61 field goals (44.3 percent) and hit 12-27 threes and 12-16 free throws.
Georgia made 27-64 field goals (44.2 percent),10-22 threes and 15-16 free throws. The Bulldogs out-rebounded Auburn 39-36 with Derek Ogbeide leading the way with 15 to go with 10 points.
Auburn led the entire opening half starting with an early three-pointer by Harper. Another three, this one by Brown, gave the Tigers a double figures lead at 17-6.
At the 7:45 mark Brown hit another three to give the Tigers their biggest lead at 28-12. However, Georgia made a run and cut the margin to 30-26 before the Tigers got into the locker room at the break with a 37-30 lead.
Lang came off the bench to lead the Tigers in scoring at the half with 10 points and Brown added nine.
The Tigers hit 12-29 shots (41.4 percent), 6-12 threes and 7-8 free throws in the half. Georgia hit 11-27 field goals (40.7 percent), 3-11 threes and 5-6 free throws. Frazier led UGA in scoring at halftime with 10 points.
Auburn out-rebounded the home team 19-15 in the first half while both teams turned the ball over nine times.
Georgia caught the Tigers at 52-52 on a three by Frazier and built the lead to five points before Auburn rallied to tie the contest at 71-71 with 5:20 left on a pair of free throws by Wiley.
Auburn took the lead on a basket by Dunans, but fell behind 79-73 on a pair of free throws by Frazier with just over a minute to play before Purifoy sparked a late charge by the Tigers.
“Thirteen turnovers is too many,” Pearl said after his team was outscored 16-11 in points off of turnovers. “We had guys making some careless passes. I? am not sure how much of it was forced.”
The coach added, “I am proud of my team. I know it sounds difficult after a loss like that, but I thought we played pretty well.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: As was the case in the first game vs. Georgia the Tigers led by double-digits. In the game at Auburn Arena the Tigers built a 13-point margin vs. the Bulldogs.
Worth Noting, Part 2: With the loss to the Bulldogs the Tigers are expected to be the 11th seed for next week’s SEC Tournament, which means they will have to play in the opening round of the event in Nashville.
Stat of the Game: Georgia outscored Auburn 12-4 in fastbreak points.
Up Next: Auburn closes the regular season with a 2:30 p.m. CST home game on Saturday vs. Missouri on Senior Day.