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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn stumbles early, blasted by Vanderbilt

Auburn’s rough start in conference play continued as Auburn (10-4, 0-2) fell to Vanderbilt (8-6, 2-0) 80-61 Wednesday night in Nashville.

Vanderbilt began the game on a 24-4 run over the first 7:26 and never led by less than 12 the rest of the game. Matthew Fisher-Davis scored 21 first-half points for the Commodores en route to a career-high 33 points. 

"Vanderbilt played great. They had their way with us," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "I'm very disappointed in our defensive effort. We got the ball to the rim a lot, but couldn't score, couldn’t get to the foul line. They jumped on us and took control of the game so quickly. We were out of sync the whole way."

Auburn was led by freshman point guard Jared Harper, who scored 19 points going 7-15 from the field, including 3-6 from three-point range. The Mableton, Ga. native scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to lead all scorers in the half.

Auburn’s two leading scorers, Danjel Purifoy and Mustapha Heron, shot a combined 6-26 from the field, scoring just 23 points. Heron scored all 13 of his points in the first half and finished with six rebounds. After tying his career-high 27 points vs. Coastal Carolina on Dec. 15, Purifoy has struggled on the offensive end, shooting 10-43 (23 percent) from the field over his last five games. He has scored just 41 points in those five games. 

Austin Wiley scored six points to go along with four rebounds in just 12 minutes. Bryce Brown scored his first points since his suspension on Dec. 14, knocking down one of his three attempts from behind the arc. 

Auburn finished 22-68 (32 percent) from the field, making just 6-of-21 three-point shots. The Tigers finished 11-13 (85 percent) from the free-throw line. Vanderbilt finished 28-58 (48 percent) from the floor, making 14-of-33 shots from beyond the arc.

Vanderbilt was led by Fisher-Davis’ 33 points, who finished 11-20 from the field. He also made 7-of-14 shots from deep to go along with seven rebounds. Luke Kornet had a double-double to lead the Commodores in the post, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Auburn has not beat Vanderbilt in Nashville since 2000.

Auburn will return home to host Ole Miss on Saturday at Auburn Arena. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. CST on the SEC Network.

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