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Dunans Carried Off Court After Win

By on December 18th, 2016 in Basketball 8 Comments »

Sometimes, it’s the unexpected things in life that bring the most joy. That was the case today at Auburn Arena. A surprisingly big crowd was on hand to see Austin Wiley, the most heralded freshman since Charles Barkley, take the court. But when it was all over, it was senior T.J. Dunans who was being carried off the court by his teammates.

Dunans’ improbable buzzer beater moved Auburn to 8–2 on the season after the 76–74 win over Mercer. For 40 minutes, the crowd made this game feel like an early March contest, not a sleepy Christmas Break walk through against a no-name opponent.

Dunans wasn’t supposed to get the ball to take the game winning shot.

“The play was for Jared (Harper) to set a little baseline screen for Dunans to bring him to the corner and come off a double pin-down at the top,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “The problem was Danjel (Purifoy) didn’t wait for Jared to get there, and he slipped down too soon. Jared curled and wasn’t open.

“So, really, Mustapha (Heron) didn’t have anybody to throw the ball to. So he threw it to the tallest, next best available player, and that was Dunans in the corner. Obviously he made a memorable shot.”

It’s hard to tell how good this team will be when the calendar turns to SEC play later this month. A 10-point favorite, Auburn trailed much of the contest until swapping leads down the stretch. Wiley’s impact was felt immediately. The 17-year-old phenom had a critical blocked shot in the closing minutes, followed by a key basket with under a minute left to give Auburn the lead.

Playing him sparingly throughout the game, Bruce Pearl turned to Wiley down the stretch, keeping him in the game in the closing moments. It will take time for this offense to get accustomed to having him in the paint. At times, Auburn sputtered trying to figure out how best to get the ball inside to him.

While it’s easy to dismiss the win as one Auburn shouldn’t have struggled with, Pearl’s bunch came away with a critical 8th win in nonconference play and a huge confidence booster going forward.

“These are the kinds of games you have to win to have a potentially memorable season,” Pearl said. “It’s hard to get eight wins in the nonconference [schedule], especially against the schedule that we’re playing, and so we feel obviously very, very fortunate.”

8 Comments

  1. DBAU81 says:

    Get ready for a wild ride this season. By the time we hit the conference schedule the starting lineup will likely feature four freshmen – one of whom would still be in high school under normal circumstances. But as a group they bring more talent to the court than we’ve seen in Auburn in a very long time, and they should do nothing but get better. It will be disappointing if we don’t make it into some type of postseason tournament.

  2. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    Great comeback, great shot, great fun, great article. WDE!

  3. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    If was obvious to me that the back court didn’t know how to deal with Wiley, which is understandable.

    One thing is certain, while Auburn never should have allowed Mercer in the game, a loss would have torpedoed any chance of playing in the NCAA tournament. Ugly or not, a win was big

  4. audude audude says:

    Thanks for the write up Jay. Too far away and too cold to get much AU hoops info.

    War Eagle Y’all!

  5. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    Haha… you got me there with that headline. Dunans carried off court??? Oh no! I hope he will be okay. Did he get an ACL tear? How many games will he miss? Will he be back?

    I’m still in football mode, here.

  6. Tiger4Life says:

    Fab 4

  7. […] on Oklahoma tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT on the CBS Sports Network. Coming off a buzzer-beating winning shot from T.J. Dunans, the Tigers narrowly escaped an upset against a less-than-stellar Mercer team—one that is […]

  8. […] and Auburn had one last chance from mid-court, thanks to the timeout. T.J. Dunans’ corner three won the game, and Auburn took an ugly win against a .500 […]