AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- Auburn got a much-needed win Wednesday night over Ole Miss, beating the Rebels 78-74. The Tigers have struggled as of late, going just 2-6 in their last eight games.
Bruce Pearl made it clear his team needed to win on Wednesday. “We are facing, again, another ‘must-win’ situation. A loss could do us almost irreparable damage because of just the math. Ole Miss has lost some games, but they have lost them really close,” Pearl said earlier this week.
Allen Flanigan got the party started in the Jungle after he ran the floor in transition and finished with a left-handed jam.
Midway through the first half, Auburn went on a 7-0 run. Johni Broome capped the run off with a two-hand slam after a dime from Tre Donaldson.
Jaylin Williams was feeling it in the first half from deep. He shot 2-3 from behind the arc and was tied with Wendell Green for the team lead with 10 points heading into the half. The Tigers went into the locker room leading 40-33.
During the intermission, Auburn brought out the newest members of the 2023 football team via the transfer portal. They got a well-deserved standing ovation from the Jungle, as they are a top-5 2023 transfer class in the country.
Auburn had the hot hand to start the second half. Flanigan drained a three, and Broome followed up with a corner three of his own, putting Auburn out in front 49-37.
Soon after, Ole Miss took the lead via a 13-0 run over a 3:53 span. Auburn missed five straight shots, including numerous opportunities around the rim, and went 5:30 without a made field goal.
Ole Miss followed up an impressive 6-minute stretch with an ugly next few minutes. The Rebels turned the ball over three times in a 1:30 stretch and struggled from the floor, keeping the game close.
The Rebels finished the game ice cold from the field, making just two of their last 10 field goal attempts. They went the final 3:38 without making a basket.
Auburn was able to hold off the Rebels down the stretch, securing the win, as the two teams stayed within two possessions for the final five minutes and change.
Free throws were the key for Auburn, as they went 22-24 from the line. The 2023 Auburn Tigers have shot just 69.8% from the charity stripe, so a contest in which they shoot 91.7% is an incredible team performance.
"We ended up getting to the free-throw line a lot," said Green after the game. That is the main thing that Coach (Pearl) told us, ‘at the end of games, we need to stop fouling and get to the free throw line more.’ It is an automatic two points. We improved on that and I hope we can improve more down the road.” Green finished the game with a team-leading, 23 points which included going 11-12 from the free throw line.
Pearl did say he was not a fan of having to play four players for 30-plus minutes, but he was proud of his best players for stepping up when it counted. He also noted that the bench players have to play better for Auburn to have success in March.
The Tigers will travel to Lexington to take on coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 pm on can be found on CBS.