There's no denying that Jared Harper and Bryce Brown are Auburn's two premier guards and one phenomenal SEC backcourt. Since the SEC Tournament title game, though, J'Von McCormick has been establishing himself as a reliable third option.
The guard trio of Harper, Brown and McCormick combined for 45 of Auburn's 78 points in Thursdy's win over New Mexico State in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament. McCormick shot 6-of-8 from the field in the win.
McCormick finished with an Auburn career-high 16 points in 18 minutes after Harper went to the bench early with two quick fouls.
The junior McCormick, who transferred to Auburn before this season began, was previously playing at Lee College where he averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds in his sophomore season.
Auburn played ten players at least ten minutes against New Mexico State.
The guard saw limited minutes this season and heading into the SEC Tournament title game, he was averaging 11 minutes of playtime and 3.5 points.
In the SEC Tournament title game, McCormick found himself having to step into a more significant role with Harper in foul trouble. McCormick ended up with five points, four assists and two rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
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Even though the regular season minutes were limited for McCormick, Brown spoke postgame on how important getting a season of SEC play under McCormick's belt has been for the NCAA tournament and how big of a factor McCormick was.
“Having that SEC experience, a year under your belt and you go out here and play New Mexico State, he’s ready for that," Brown said. "He’s ready for this moment, he’s been doing it all SEC play. He was one the most important players that we had for this game. How he just stepped up, he made plays, made big shots. Von was very important for us in this game.”
Teammate Chuma Okeke also stated the importance of McCormick's play.
“I feel like J’Von really stepped up, he made some big plays on the offensive end and on the defensive end," Okeke said. "I feel like we don’t really win that game without J’Von, that’s how much of an impact he was in this game.”
The Tigers will need McCormick to continue his big-time play if they want to keep this run of success going in the tournament. Auburn advances to the Round of 32 where it will face 4-seed Kansas on Saturday at 8:40 p.m. CST on TBS.
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