Bryce Brown was hot in Auburn's blowout win over Texas A&M. (photo: USA TODAY Sports)
Perhaps the only major knock on Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team has been their inability to show up on the road. There is no doubting their rank among the sport’s elite, but the one thing that has plagued the Tigers even before this year was poor road play.
Typically, fans that haven’t followed the program in-depth would be more likely to pinpoint a symptom of the struggles, such as poor shooting from beyond the arc rather than the over-all issue. It hadn’t escaped Pearl and it was obvious that he had the Tigers prepared to play in a tough road environment Wednesday in College Station, Texas.
ESPNU did a fine job covering the Texas A&M yell leaders and all of their unique cheers. However, it was not because of the effect it had on Auburn’s performance, but because the game was so out of hand that it was the only part of the game that was compelling.
Auburn never trailed in this contest with the game only being knotted up twice: when the Aggies tied it at 2-2 and 4-4. The Tigers held a 48-32 lead at half and held a 65-44 lead at one point mid-way in the second half. The Aggies did close the gap, so to speak, as Auburn was incredibly sloppy after playing such a fine-tuned game for most of the contest. The sloppiness led Pearl to leave the starters in for more minutes than one might expect during such a blowout. The game ended in an 85-66 road against TAMU, a team that had just won a road victory in Tuscaloosa.
Bryce Brown was the surface-of-the-sun hot for the closing moments of the first half. Brown scored 19 consecutive points for Auburn. That represented the vast majority of his 22 total points, 20 of which came in the first half onslaught. Brown finished with 5-11 shooting from long range with him hitting an astounding four straight shots in the first half. Brown was easily the headliner, but there were a lot of other highlights from the Tigers.
It might have been Brown’s deluge of long balls that blew the game open, but it was Anfernee McLemore’s 3-3 sharp-shooting to start the game that fanned the flame for Brown’s big night. McLemore came off the bench for starter Austin Wiley; ultimately playing five more minutes (19 total) and outscored the big man 13-4. Wiley wasn’t unheard from, however, as he out-rebounded everyone on the floor with his 12 boards while adding a block.
As if he had read a comment I had just made on Twitter about not being a block player, Chuma Okeke found a rhythm in the second half by posting up in the paint and looking like a legit big man. On a night when he was 0-3 from downtown, Chuma boxed out and used a natural looking hook shot to score several two point buckets. He hit five of eight shots inside the arc to finish with ten points, two steals, seven boards and an assist. Long range struggles aside; it was the most complete game I can recall from him.
Jared Harper’s efforts may have been overshadowed as he tossed in 17 points and had six assists on 4-9 shooting from three point range. However, he had another off night at the line, going 1-3, while adding three turnovers.
Auburn was able to work in several reserve players, but there was one particular player that continues to get zero minutes …
More on the Tigers big road win over Texas A&M after the jump.
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