Texas A&M holds on for 81-80 upset of No. 8 Auburn
By JOHN ZENOR
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Texas A&M built a big lead, lost it and ultimately came out on top after a frantic final minute.
Duane Wilson made one of two free throws with four seconds left to lift the Aggies to an 81-80 upset of No. 8 Auburn on Wednesday night.
Texas A&M (16-8, 5-6 Southeastern Conference) held on for its third straight win after squandering a 17-point lead in the second half.
"We turned the ball over too many times in the second half," coach Billy Kennedy said. "We got out of control a little bit. It was a physical game, and it took us a while to adjust to their physicality on the perimeter."
Mustapha Heron's 3-point attempt from a few feet across midcourt bounced off the rim at the buzzer, capping a wild second half and final minute.
Malik Dunbar forced a jump ball off an inbounds pass with 50 seconds left, but Auburn (21-3, 9-2) gave it right back when Wilson came away with a turnover.
D.J. Hogg missed a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down and Horace Spencer was fouled with 10 seconds left.
Spencer tied it with a pair of free throws. Wilson then drove toward the basket and was fouled by Chuma Okeme.
"I believe in Duane because he's a senior point guard so I knew that he was going to knock down at least one," said freshman T.J. Starks, who scored a career-high 23 points.
After a long review of the play by the officials, the 80 percent foul shooter swished the first one and missed the second. Spencer grabbed the rebound with 3.2 seconds left.
Auburn just got it across midcourt to set up a desperation final shot.
Auburn fans weren't happy with the foul call, but coach Bruce Pearl declined to comment on the officiating. He said Auburn was hurt by poor execution late in the game, including on the final play.
"We lost the game because they scored 81 points, they shot a great percentage," Pearl said. "They got the ball inside and they beat us. The calls at the end didn't lose us the game."
Heron led Auburn with 28 points and Pearl said "he rose up and got on another level."
Auburn leading scorer Bryce Brown left late in the first half with a right shoulder injury and didn't return. He had seven points.
Texas A&M shot 63 percent in the first half and 54 percent overall.
Texas A&M: The Aggies, trying to make a late surge toward an NCAA Tournament berth, produced their second win over a top-10 team this season. ... Texas A&M had three starters taller than any of Auburn's players.
Auburn: Sporting the program's highest ranking in 18 years, had a five-game winning streak snapped. ... The Tigers had overcome five double-digit deficits in the second half.
Texas A&M, one of the nation's top rebounding teams, dominated the boards 33-22. Davis had eight rebounds and Williams seven. No Auburn player had more than four.
"From a size standpoint, physicality standpoint, we really missed Danjel and Austin today," Heron said. "This is one of those games where we really needed them."
Texas A&M hosts No. 24 Kentucky on Saturday night.
Auburn visits Georgia on Saturday afternoon.
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Updated February 8, 2018