In its first game, Auburn defeated Saint Joseph's in overtime 96-91 in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Scoring came from all over the Auburn roster against the Hawks. Jaylin Williams led Auburn in scoring, posting a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Devan Cambridge added another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Allen Flanigan and Tyrell Jones added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Freshman point guard Justin Powell scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds in his first collegiate game.
“We ask a lot of our point guard, and I thought he did a terrific job,” said head coach Bruce Pearl about Powell. “I think that’s really good—great, great debut for Justin. Get to the foul line, make all his free throws, knock down some big threes. He played with confidence.”
Behind 7-4 early, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run to take a 14-7 lead. Williams hit a jumper midway through the first half, expanding the lead to as much as 11, pushing the Tigers up 24-13.
Another run by the Tigers put them further away from the Hawks, who kept coming back. The Tigers ended the half on an 11-4 run, with scoring from freshman JT Thor, Powell and Flanigan.
Auburn held its lead until two Hawks' layups put St Joseph's ahead 83-80, with a minute to go in the second half.
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13 seconds remained in the game when Williams helped send the game to overtime. Slipping a screen, Williams caught the ball from Cambridge and went around the defender in the air to slam the ball through the net to tie the contest at 84 apiece.
“I thought Jaylin would be open on the slip, but he had to execute it,” Pearl said. “We needed that bucket.”
In overtime, the Tigers took control as Powell and Williams scored eight of the Tigers 12 points in the winning effort.
“Jaylin Williams was the best player on the floor. What a win for the first time out this season,” Pearl said.
Owning the rebounding game, the Tigers outrebounded the Hawks 56-39, generating 30 second-chance points off those boards.
“Rebounding was key,” Williams said. “A big key in the game. We could have even did much bigger in rebounding.”
The victory will have to be short-lived, as the Tigers will face the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs at 10 a.m. CST Friday in its second game of the tournament.
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