BROOKLYN, New York– Austin Wiley has been playing like a man possessed in these last few days. Down by one in the second half, Auburn rallied behind Wiley and took control to remain undefeated with a 79-65 basketball win over the Richmond Spiders on Tuesday night at the Barclays Arena.
Wiley scored 18 points while with eight rebounds. He blocked two shots but changed a bunch in the paint area. AU won its 21st regular-season tournament in program history, but the first under coach Bruce Pearl.
In the second half, Wiley scored three quick buckets after the break as Auburn turned a 35-34 deficit into a double-digit lead that they expanded to as many as 22 points with 2:29 left in the game.
Each team pulled in 21 rebounds in the first half. Auburn turned the ball over eight times before the break, one more than the Spiders. The poor shooting and turnovers accounted for the Tigers’ slow start.
“It’s great to win MVP. Now I have to shift my focus. I’m going to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, and I’m going to be in the gym just getting better as a player all the time.” Auburn Wiley said after the game.
The Tigers took the lead for good on a layup by Wiley less than 20 minutes to play in the game. Auburn built the lead to 10 at the 14:23 mark on a great pass from J’Von McCormick to Anfernee McLemore, who dunked to make the score 51-41.
Samir Doughty, who also made the all-tournament team, led all scorers with 22 points. He hit 7-16 field goals, 2-6 threes and 6-8 free throws while three assists and no turnovers.
“Samir Doughty could have easily been the MVP,” Pearl said. “He played great this (week).” Doughty scored 19 points on Monday night in an 84-59 victory over New Mexico, which defeated Wisconsin on Tuesday night.
For the game the Tigers hit 26-60 field goals (43.3 percent), 5-19 threes and 22-31 free throws. The Spiders made 28-65 field goals (43.1 percent) but were just 2-18 on three-pointers while going 7-9 from the charity stripe.
Auburn got contributions from its bench 10 points total with five from Jamal Johnson, three from Allen Flanigan and two from McLemore. The subs added 11 rebounds with freshman Allen Flanigan hauling four of them.
“They missed some open ones, but we had a lot of contested shots,” Pearl said about Auburn’s defensive effort. “Our kids do an outstanding job paying attention to the scout. I’ve got a tremendous coaching staff. We look really hard in scouting and in preparation.