The Tigers trip to Connecticut was everything coach Bruce Pearl could ask for, and now the Auburn Men's basketball team is 10-2 for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
"We came out here … to get nationally relevant," Pearl said. "We won two. We didn’t play well in either game. I’ve got so much to work with — and so much work to do."
Freshman point guard Jared Harper once again proved that he is "worth the price of admission" as he led his squad to a 70-67 overtime victory over UConn. Harper, who hit the go ahead basket with 27 seconds remaining, scored 22 points in the contest for the Tigers. Harper stressed that confidence was key during the contest.
"Always being confident that I can get to my spots," Harper said. "I made some good plays. I was going with my chances plus Anfernee [McLemore] was able to clean up the glass."
Pearl was also pleased with the play of his point guard.
“Jared Harper is special,” Pearl said of his true freshman point guard. “He’s put it together back to back now. He wanted that ball.”
Despite shooting 29 percent from both the field and from behind the arc in the first half, the Tigers found themselves only down one point at the break. The shooting did not improve drastically for Auburn in the second half, but the Tigers made timely buckets to earn the victory.
Connecticut native and Auburn Freshman Mustapha Heron picked up where he left off on Wednesday, and recorded 15 points and eight rebounds in front of family and friends. Freshman Anfernee McLemore also added nine points for the Tigers.
With 10:20 left in the contest, UConn went on a nine minute drought where the Huskies did not hit a field goal. Auburn led 66-60 with 1:20 remaining, when the momentum shifted the Huskies way. T.J. Dunans was called for a flagrant one intentional foul, which sent the UConn to the line and gave them the ball back. At the end of the trip, the Huskies ended their drought and had a four point trip to pull within two points of Auburn. The Huskies then tied the game at 60 to force overtime.
Things looked troubling for the Tigers heading into overtime, with much of the momentum favoring the Huskies. In the end, Auburn would not be denied and returned the favor to UConn by scoring the final six points of the contest in overtime to secure the win.
"This week, we helped the league," Pearl said in reference to wins against UConn and Oklahoma. "That matters to me. We helped another [SEC] team because of this weekend."
Auburn will return home to begin conference play against Georgia on Dec. 29. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CST. and action can be seen on ESPNU.