STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI (EETV)- The only thing that separated The Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Mississippi from being Auburn Arena was the big Mississippi State logo in the middle of the court and the Maroon that was plastered all over the coliseum.
The Auburn faithful rang true throughout the building and Auburn played like they had at home all season.
Well, in the first half they did.
Auburn won its first road game since Feb. 5 with a, 81-66, overtime win over Mississippi State on Wednesday night. Auburn has clinched a share of the SEC Regular Season Title with the win and can win it outright on Saturday with a win over South Carolina.
“Just happy to win on the road, it's been a minute,” freshman Jabari Smith said with a laugh. “It felt good knowing this team has only lost once at home all sec play. It just felt great.”
Auburn went into the halftime break with a 40-28 lead. Mississippi State went on a 20-6 run to start the second half and took the lead in the game for the first time at the eight minute mark. From there on out, Auburn and State traded blows and runs.
Auburn was astronomically cold in the second half shooting 28%. No one for Auburn scored in double figures in the second half. Auburn halved its offensive output from the first half putting up only 21 points.
“We came out great in the first half and didn't have the same energy in the second half,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “They sucked it up and everybody contributed.”
Auburn was heading into this game ranked fourth national in 2-pt field goal defense holding opponents to 42%. On Wednesday, Mississippi State had scored 46 of its 59 points inside the paint with just under four minutes to go in the game. In the final four minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime, the Bulldogs scored only eight points in the paint.
Auburn will need to clean that up as they head into the final game of the regular season and in tournament play.
“Mississippi State leads the league in 2-pt field goals,” Pearl said. “That has nothing to do with Auburn. Give Mississippi State the Credit.”
Freshman Jabari Smith had one of the best games of his career in this win. Smith played 35 minutes and picked up the fifth double-double of his Auburn career scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Smith went 3-for-5 from 3-point range in this game and has hit a three in 24 straight games.
“I felt like I was in a groove in the first half,” Smith said. “They jumped on us in the second half and I had to step my game up.”
KD Johnson had two points in the first half of play and scored none in the second half. When Auburn and Mississippi State went into overtime, Johnson was the one who stepped up and took the game over. Johnson scored 12 of Auburn’s 20 total points scored in the overtime period.
Johnson went 3-for-3 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Johnson has stepped up time and time again in the clutch for Auburn. He did it against Missouri on the road and Mississippi State on the road. He has been dangerous in clutch moments all season long.
“That's just the type of player [KD Johnson] is,” Smith said. “He has extreme confidence and we have extreme confidence in him.”
Auburn has clinched a share of its third SEC title in four years. It is the fourth SEC Regular Season Title in Auburn history.
“I’m happy for Auburn,” Pearl said with a chuckle. “This is our third championship in four years. These suckers don't come easy.”
Auburn will close out the regular season at home against South Carolina on Saturday. If the Tigers win, they will hold the regular season title by themselves. If they lose, the Tigers have the potential to split it four ways. Tipoff for that game is 12 p.m. CST and will air on the SEC Network.