Auburn has made a habit of digging itself a hole early in games and finding a way out in the second half with a barrage of three-point shots.
The 14th-ranked Tigers tried to pull off another comeback Tuesday night in Fayetteville, but the Hogs would not be outdone on senior night in Bud Walton Arena.
After building as big of a lead as 19 in the second half, Arkansas kept Auburn at arms’ length as it took down the Tigers 91-82 Tuesday night.
“We didn’t get as good of shots as we should’ve,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We should have executed a little bit better. We were in such foul trouble. Having to play Mustapha at a lot of four, it was really difficult.
"Our kids played hard, and they really battled. To be a little discombobulated and still in the game was encouraging. Losing here, look, they’re 15-2 at home so it’s not an embarrassment by any stretch of the imagination.”
The Tigers used a 7-0 run midway through the first half to close an Arkansas lead to just two, but as they did all night, the Razorbacks had an answer.
Arkansas responded with a 17-6 run to push its lead out to 13, and never gave the Tigers much of a chance the rest of the way.
Opening the second half with a 10-point lead, Arkansas used a 9-0 run out of the locker room to put the Tigers away early.
Arkansas shot 53 percent from the floor (31-of-59) as well as 53 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-19) as it used its hot shooting from the outset to light up the scoreboard on senior night.
The Hogs’ bench outscored Auburn’s bench 40-15. Arkansas also outscored the Tigers with 17 fast-break points compared to Auburn’s seven.
Auburn shot just 34 percent (22-of-64) from the field and 25 percent (7-of-28) from three-point range. The Tigers finished 31-of-34 (91 percent) from the free throw line.
Mustapha Heron led all scorers with 28 points on 8-of-21 shooting. The former five-star recruit finished 9-of-11 from the free throw line and grabbed eight rebounds.
“Mustapha Heron is playing great,” Pearl said. “He’s really playing well on both ends of the floor.”
Jared Harper scored 20 points for the Tigers but finished just 1-of-7 from three-point range. Harper went a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Bryce Brown’s struggles continued on Tuesday as the junior finished with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting. For the first time since Auburn’s second game of the season on Nov. 16, Brown finished without a made three-point shot.
Daniel Gafford led Arkansas (21-9, 10-7) with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks, while Jaylen Barford finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Hogs.
Daryl Macon poured in 16 points for Arkansas on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.
With the loss, Auburn’s lead in the SEC standings has evaporated as it is now deadlocked with Tennessee in the top spot. The Tigers own the tiebreaker over the Volunteers, but with a tie atop the standings, the teams would share the title of SEC champions.
Auburn (24-6, 12-5) will host South Carolina on Saturday with an opportunity to clinch a share of the SEC title with a win. The Gamecocks defeated Auburn 94-85 on Feb. 17.
“We’re tied with Tennessee right now. We hold the tiebreaker and we’ve got to go home and beat South Carolina on Saturday to win the league and the No. 1 seed.”
Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. CST inside Auburn Arena on Saturday.