It did not take long for Auburn to welcome the visiting UConn Huskies to Auburn Arena.
In fact, the game was out of hand quickly after it began.
After UConn tied the game at seven with 14:49 remaining in the first half, Auburn went on a 19-2 over the next 3:20 en route to a 89-64 victory over the Huskies.
"I think this is the best we played," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "I don't know if this is the best outcome, but I would say on both sides of the ball, we seemed to have an idea how we wanted to play the whole night. We've got ourselves a bit of an identity and I would say this is as well as we've played.”
The Tigers outscored the Huskies 47-24 in the first half while holding UConn to just 25 percent from the field.
Auburn had an assist on 12 of its 15 first half field goals, which totaled more than Auburn’s 11 assists in its 81-77 victory over Murray State earlier in the week.
"When we defensively get in a position where we dictate, we can be pretty good," Pearl said. "This team wants to get better, so we're really pleased to be going into the holiday 11-1."
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Auburn led by as many as 36 points in the second half. UConn never led in the contest.
"We got some guys who identify with guarding," Pearl said. "Defense and rebounding will carry you a long way."
Auburn was led by Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray, who scored 13 points apiece. Malik Dubar totaled 12 points off the bench, while Jared Harper scored 11 points and notched seven assists for the Tigers.
Horace Spencer finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds off the Auburn bench. He also added three blocks and two steals.
“Horace, his toughness, just his toughness, his physicality,” Pearl said. “Keep this in mind, Horace was starting earlier in the year, Anfernee (McLemore) started playing well and started to start.
“Horace didn’t drop his attitude, his leadership, his toughness one bit. When other teammates see that, when a team sees that, that’s contagious.”
Despite the Huskies having a major size advantage over the Tigers, Auburn out-rebounded UConn 45-44, and outscored the visitors 30-24 in the paint.
The Tigers shot 40.3 percent from the floor, making 12-of-34 from 3-point range. Auburn had 18 assists and just eight turnovers.
“We focus every ounce of this on the players cause they are the ones that have stayed together and they are the ones that wear the jersey on the front,” Pearl said. “Auburn outplayed UConn tonight. Auburn was able to get two wins over a storied program the last couple of years. We have made progress, but we have a long way to go.”
Jalen Adams led UConn with 14 points and seven rebounds. Terry Larrier scored 12 points for the Huskies, who fell to 7-5 on the season.
Auburn, which moved to 11-1 with its ninth-straight win, will return to action on Dec. 30 as it hosts Cornell in its non-conference finale. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. CST inside Auburn Arena.
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