Auburn Affected by Loss of Austin Wiley—Drops Second Heartbreaker in Three Days
How long will injured Auburn center Austin Wiley be sidelined? (photo:al.com)
Fresh off a heartbreaking last second loss to Kentucky, the Auburn Tigers dropped a second close SEC game Tuesday night. This time it was an 80–77 road loss to South Carolina. It was also the second game without starting center Austin Wiley and the second consecutive game the Tigers’ other two big men Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer fouled out, this time with eight minutes left to play.
Still the No. 16 Tigers fought back, overcoming a 10-point deficit to take a 77–75 lead off a Jared Harper free throw with 56 seconds left on the clock. Then Carolina’s Felipe Haase hit a three pointer with 30 seconds to regain the lead followed by Chuma Okeke’s missed 3 pointer. South Carolina made two successful free throws at the 2-second mark to secure the win.
Auburn was okay rebounding and was a solid 20 for 26 at the foul line. But it was the lack of the big men for the inside game that made the difference. There’s still no word when Wiley will be able to play after suffering a leg injury last week. But without him a season that looked so promising after drumming Georgia 93–78 ten days ago now is in danger of coming unraveled. But if anyone knows how to keep it on track, it’s Coach Bruce Pearl. After all his team gutted it out last year with a depleted roster.
“We had our chances,” Pearl said. [But] this is the league we’re in. This is the grind that we have. Right now we’re giving away a lot of size, and it’s affecting us.”
And now the Tigers have to regroup as they head to Starkville to play another tall team without Wiley. Saturday’s game against Mississippi State will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.