Now nine games into the 2018-19 campaign, it seems as if every night, a new Tiger notches a career game.
Bryce Brown was the latest, as the senior had his best scoring night in an Auburn uniform as the No. 8 Tigers improved to 8-1 with an 82-72 win over Dayton on Saturday night at Auburn Arena. Brown would finish with a career-high 34 points behind 6-of-13 shooting from three.
“Bryce is a great shotmaker,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We obviously leaned on him heavily. We did not have balance, but he delivered.”
Auburn opened the game with a blazing-hot start. It led 17-4 after Jared Harper hit a 3-pointer only a few minutes into the game. Brown got hot to end the first half, pouring in four straight 3-pointers to balloon Auburn’s lead at to 51-32 at the break.
Auburn shot well as a team in the first half with a 16-for-26 clip from the floor. That marked cooled to 12-of-35 in the second half.
If not for Brown’s career night, Jared Harper would have been the story for Auburn. He finished with 20 points and seven assists. He shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range and hit several timely shots to end Dayton runs or get the crowd involved.
Harper wanted to talk about Brown’s career night instead of his play, though.
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“It makes it easy for me when I can get past my man and I know he is going to get open," Harper said. "If he can get open, and I can get him the ball then more times than not he is going to make the shot.”
Auburn’s defense was tenacious from the get-go, holding Dayton to only 10 points in the first nine minutes of the game. The Tigers didn’t play as well in the second half defensively, but Dayton still turned the ball over 23 times in the contest.
“We didn’t have the same energy in the second half,” Pearl said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the score, but we need to keep playing better. It was a very good win.”
Samir Doughty, Brown and Harper were the only Tigers to knock down triples on the night as they combined for 12-of-22 from three. In particular, Brown found his stroke after a single-digit scoring performance earlier in the week against UNC Asheville.
“Lately, I have not been proud of my 3-point percentage," Brown said. "I have been trying to take smarter shots. I have been trying to find better gaps in the defense and get open by working harder without the ball.”
Doughty stuffed the stat sheet as he finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, four steals and six assists. Austin Wiley finished with eight points and five blocks. Anfernee McLemore chipped in six points.
Dayton scratched its way back into the game in the second half with a 10-point run to get within six points with 13 minutes left. Doughty nailed a triple to end that run.
Auburn looked like it was pulling away as Harper hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 10 minutes left to extend Auburn’s lead to 74-56. Dayton battled back and hung around for the remainder of the game, however.
The Flyers got the lead down to eight points with about four minutes left, but a Brown jumper from the free-throw line put Auburn back up by double digits.
Auburn will take next week off from action as the University will be having finals week. Auburn will return to the court next Saturday in Birmingham vs. UAB.
The game is the Mike Slive Invitational and will be at 6:30 p.m. CST on CBS Sports Network. Auburn will have its full roster available for the first time this season as forward Danjel Purifoy will return to the rotation for the first time since the 2016-17 season after serving his nine-game suspension.
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