Auburn’s five-game winning streak was snapped on Wednesday in a 97-85 loss to Arkansas in the SEC opener.
“Arkansas was fast and quick, and we just couldn’t keep them in front,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “We did not do a very good job with our individual defense and struggled to turn them over.”
Auburn tied the game at 74-all following free throws by Allen Flanigan with 7:30 left to play, but a 10-0 run by the Razorbacks’ put the game out of reach.
Auburn was led in scoring by Jamal Johnson, who finished with a career-high 21 points. Flanigan had 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
“Our main goal is to win the SEC regular-season championship,” Johnson said. “The career-high was great, but I want to win. Our whole team and our coaching staff want to win.”
Flanigan and Johnson were not the only Tigers to score in double-figures as Devan Cambridge had a season-high 15 points and Jaylin Williams finished with 13 points.
Justin Powell had nine assists, including assists on a Dylan Cardwell dunk and a 3-pointer by Johnson. Cardwell and Johnson’s 5-0 run helped the Tigers whittle down the Razorback lead to 71-69.
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A Cambridge 3-pointer pulled Auburn within two points before Flanigan’s free throws tied it up at 74-74.
Turnover issues plagued the Tigers down the stretch as Arkansas pulled away. Auburn committed 19 turnovers in the contest leading to 27 Razorback points.
“They took better care of the basketball than we did, and that’s why they got out of here with a win,” Pearl said. “It’s great to have the size and the length that we have, but only if you can utilize that size and length by blocking shots or helping more defensively.”
Heading into halftime, the Tigers trailed 47-41 and had made 9-of-17 3-pointers. When the final buzzer sounded, Auburn finished the day 15-of-29 from 3-point range.
The Razorbacks led 32-22 with 9:30 left in the first half before a 14-2 scoring run by Auburn tied things up at 34 apiece. The tie did not last long as Arkansas went on a 7-0 run.
Next up, Auburn (6-3, 0-1 in SEC) travels to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST.
“We’ve got to get a lot better to be able to win SEC games,” Pearl said. “But I think we learned a lot.”
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