BOONE, N.C. (EETV) – Auburn men’s basketball traveled to the mountains of western North Carolina this weekend to take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers in a battle of five-win teams. Though Auburn entered the game favored, the Mountaineers protected their home court to pull off the upset 69-64.
The two teams played quite evenly matched for most of the first half, as each team struggled to shoot the ball from any distance and relied on points in the paint and free throws to score. The Mountaineer crowd was willing App State on, in this one for most of the half, keeping them within range of Auburn every time the Tigers threatened to pull away.
Finally, with just one second left to go in the half, App State’s Jordan Marsh made a layup to put the Mountaineers up by two entering the intermission. From there, they would not relinquish the lead despite Auburn’s best efforts.
App State came out of the locker room red-hot from beyond the arc, shooting an outstanding 58% from deep in the second half. Auburn had no answer for this level of scoring, and was only able to mount a 42% shooting percentage in the second half, shooting a paltry 14% from beyond the arc. The Tigers out-rebounded App State 48 to 32, but did not have the shooting to capitalize on the disparity.
The App State shooting combined with the raucous Mountaineer crowd proved to be too much for Auburn, as the Tigers struggled to score any points outside of 11 from Johni Broome and 8 from Tre Donaldson. The Auburn offense looked completely out of sync, and a major reason for that was the sheer noise in Holmes Center as the students and fans in attendance began to sense that their team was in control.
Auburn, down five points with 17 seconds left on the clock, was unable to mount a comeback as Chad Baker-Mazara missed twice from three and Johni Broome was unable to hit on two successive free throws. One final rebound was secured by App State’s Jordan Marsh, the buzzer sounded, and the Mountaineer faithful stormed the court, elated after securing the upset.
Auburn’s offense once again ran through Johni Broome, as the junior forward led the team in points with 21, nine more than the second-leading scorer for the Tigers, Tre Donaldson. Outside of that, the Tigers struggled immensely shooting the ball. This was the first game ever under Bruce Pearl that Auburn shot less than 15% from three (11%) and less than 50% from the free throw line (47%), and that lack of shooting was just too much for Auburn to overcome.
App State scoring was led by bench guard Myles Tate, who recorded 18 points on the afternoon, including the Mountaineer’s final five points of the game. However, Tate wasn’t the only Mountaineer in double figures. Donovan Gregory (12), Terrance Harcum (12), and CJ Huntley (10) all joined Tate with ten or more in the victory.
After the game, Coach Bruce Pearl gave credit to the Mountaineers for a game well played.
“Congrats to App State. Great environment,” said Pearl. “Great crowd. It was awesome in here. They have a chance to have a really good team... We knew coming in here that this was going to feel like a mid-to-lower SEC team."
Auburn now sits at 5-2 after the upset and will return to Neville Arena on Dec. 9 to take on the Indiana Hoosiers in what the Tigers hope can be a bounce-back game to regain some momentum as they move deeper into December and closer to conference play.