With the song “We’ve got Jared” being sung all around The Plains — and in the Auburn locker room in Kansas City, Missouri, for the last week or so — it seems only fitting the man himself, Jared Harper, would guide the Tigers to their first Final Four appearance in program history,
Auburn and Kentucky battled it out the entire second half of its Elite Eight matchup, with Auburn coming out the victor in a 77-71 win.
With the shot clock winding down to the final seconds of regular play, Horace Spencer took the shot for a 3-pointer that would have won the game. It wasn’t successful, and Auburn found itself heading into overtime with a 60-60 tie.
After a quick break, Auburn came out swinging behind Jared Harper who commanded the court the entire five minutes of play. He scored the first four points of overtime and eventually accounted for 12 of the Tigers’ 17 points they scored in overtime.
It was sweet revenge for the junior, whose would-be go-ahead running layup fell just short in Auburn's loss to Kentucky at home earlier in the season.
Harper led the team with 26 points. He also had five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and three steals for the night. He scored the Tigers’ final points of the game with a rebound. This was after hitting two free throws that came on a foul that sent him the the ground hard on his hip. He took a second to recover then get back and did what he did all of overtime, lead the Auburn offense to a win.
"In the second half, all I did was try to get out of the way and get the ball to Bryce and Jared," said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl postgame.
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The Tigers' floor general was also a perfect 11-for-11 from the foul line.
"I just knew if I was going to get to the line, I was going to make the free throws," Harper said postgame. "I put a lot of work and a lot of pressure on myself outside of games like this to be able to make those same plays. So, sometimes in a game, it's no pressure at all for me."
The 5-foot-10 point guard could not be defended by Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans, an elite SEC defender. With Harper’s 3-point shot a bit off all night, he went inside time and time again, finishing strong at the rim.
The Tigers will head to Minneapolis to face off against Virginia in the national semifinals on Saturday.
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