Brown, Auburn shoot past Razorbacks

By: John Zenor, The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Auburn guard Samir Doughty (10) passes the ball around Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)
Auburn guard Samir Doughty (10) passes the ball around Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

— The Auburn Tigers buried Arkansas under an early avalanche of 3-pointers, and the Razorbacks never came close to climbing out.

Bryce Brown scored 18 points and contributed five 3s to Auburn's long-range barrage in a 79-56 rout of the Razorbacks Wednesday night.

The Tigers (18-8, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) built a 30-point lead in the first half and made 17 of 33 3-pointers. It was the most 3s by Auburn since the opener against South Alabama.

They clearly listened to Jared Harper's pre-game suggestion.

"In the huddle, Jared came up to us and he was like, 'When was the last time we started out with a big opening run?'" Auburn's Anfernee McLemore said. "I was like, early in the season.

"He was like, let's start off one now. We didn't think it was going to be 22-1."

The Razorbacks (14-12, 5-8) dropped their fourth straight game and could never dig out of that 22-1 hole in the opening minutes.

Brown made 5 of 8 3s to lead four Auburn scorers in double figures. McLemore scored 13 points while Chuma Okeke had 11 points and five assists. Harper scored 10.

The Tigers made six 3-pointers before Arkansas hit its first field goal after eight misses.

The first-half lead grew to 30 and stood at 45-20 at halftime.

Auburn looked more like the team that spent six weeks in the Top 10 earlier this season.

"It was a pretty dominating effort against a good SEC team," Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said. "So something maybe to build on."

And another difficult blow for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas' Isaiah Joe launched freely in a battle of the SEC's two most prolific 3-point shooters, himself and Brown. Joe scored 14 points and made 4 of 14 3s.

"We know they're a terrific 3-point shooting team," Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson said. "They made 17 tonight. Our defense didn't do a good job of getting out there and finding their shooters.

"We know when they go on a run, they can really go off and they did tonight. And we couldn't make any shots."

The Razorbacks shot just 32.8 percent overall and were 4 of 26 from 3-point range.

Daniel Gafford had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Razorbacks, but one miss summed up how things went.

"He had a wide-open dunk and he misses the dunk," Anderson said. "That's the kind of night it was."

BIG PICTURE

Arkansas: Never rebounded from a cold start when the team needed more than 7 minutes to make a basket. Also gave up a 23-1 run to Mississippi State in the last game. Mason Jones scored four points, 10 below his season average.

Auburn: Showed how dangerous the team can be when the 3-pointers are falling from a variety of shooters. Made a nice entry into the NCAA Tournament resume with a tough closing stretch looming.

"I looked at this game as kind of a game we had to have," Pearl said.

MALIK STARTS

Malik Dunbar scored eight points for Auburn, all in the opening six minutes, in his first start of the season and fourth of his career. Samir Doughty was limited by a foot injury.

"I just tried to worry about defense," Dunbar said.

UP NEXT

Arkansas goes for a season sweep of Texas A&M at home Saturday night.

Auburn visits No. 4 Kentucky Saturday in a rematch of a game the Wildcats won 82-80 on Jan. 19.

EARLIER

Auburn 79, Arkansas 56 - Final

Bryce Brown scored a game-high 18 points, the Tigers made 17 3-pointers and Auburn raced to a convincing win over the Razorbacks.

Auburn's 17 made 3-pointers is second-most in a game this season. Anfernee McLemore added 13 points, Chuma Okeke pitched in 11 and Jared Harper finished with 10. Five Tigers players made at least two 3s in the win.

Isaiah Joe led Arkansas, which has now lost four straight games in SEC play for the second time, with 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting - 4-of-14 from 3-point range. Daniel Gafford was the only other Razorbacks player in double figures with 10 points.

More from tonight's game later on WholeHogSports.com.

Auburn 77, Arkansas 49 - 3:03 left

Bryce Brown and Jared Harper each hit 3s between the media timeouts. Auburn has now hit 17-of-33 3-point attempts tonight. Brown is 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-8 from deep. He's been tough tonight.

Daniel Gafford, in a moment that really encapsulated the entire night, tried to throw down a two-hand slam but wound up launching it over the rim, straight out of bounds and into the now-empty seats courtside.

Auburn 69, Arkansas 45 - 7:00 left

Reggie Chaney and Daniel Gafford have each scored twice since the previous media timeout, slightly chipping into Auburn's lead. Gafford has nine points on 4-of-4 shooting and six rebounds. Chaney has four points in nine minutes.

Bryce Brown has nine of his game-high 18 points in the second half to lead Auburn, and McLemore has eight. Tigers are still shooting the 3 well. They're 5-of-10 from deep in the second half, putting them at 16-of-30 on the night.

Auburn 60, Arkansas 33 - 11:29 left

Isaiah Joe has eight points on 3-of-7 shooting in the second half and is the lone Arkansas player in double figures with 14. Gabe Osabuohien remains the second leading scorer with six.

Bryce Brown scored the final five points prior to the under-16 media timeout on a midrange jumper and a 3 in transition. Brown has a team-high 12 points on 3-of-4 from distance. Auburn has now hit 13 3s.

Auburn 54, Arkansas 22 - 15:24 left

Anfernee McLemore added another bucket and Chuma Okeke hit Auburn's 12th 3-pointer of the night to give Auburn its biggest lead of the night at the first media timeout of the second half.

Daniel Gafford was fouled and will be at the line when play resumes. Razorbacks are 1-of-6 from the floor since the break, and Isaiah Joe has the only bucket - a long 2. He's 0-of-3 from distance in the second half and just 2-of-8 for the game.

You name it, it's gone wrong for Arkansas tonight.

Auburn 49, Arkansas 22 - 17:42 left

Following a Jared Harper turnover, Arkansas can't get the ball inbounded so the Razorbacks have to call for time to avoid a five-second violation.

Mike Anderson elected to start Desi Sills, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson and Gabe Osabuohien to open the second half in place of Mason Jones, Jalen Harris and Adrio Bailey.

Anfernee McLemore hit a 3 to kick off the scoring for the Tigers after the break. He's the fifth Tigers player with two made 3-pointers tonight.

Auburn 45, Arkansas 20 - Halftime

A hellacious half of basketball finally comes to an end for the Razorbacks. Arkansas finds itself down 25 at halftime on the road to a hot-shooting Auburn club.

Four Tigers players hit at least two 3-pointers in the first half. Auburn has shot the ball well, especially from deep, but the balance has been key and has the Razorbacks scrambling defensively. Six players combined to knock down 10-of-17 3-pointers.

Arkansas has not only been an absolute mess on defense, but its offense has been beyond dreadful. The Razorbacks scored on just nine of their 38 first-half possessions - .526 points per possession. Isaiah Joe has hit both of Arkansas' 3-pointers while the rest of the team is 0-of-8.

Joe and Gabe Osabuohien are Arkansas' leading scorers at the break. Each has six points. Osabuohien is 3-of-4 from the floor and has three steals. Outside of a turnover and a missed 3-pointer, he's played fine.

Daniel Gafford was a team-worst minus-26 in his 12 minutes on the floor before the half. He scored four points on a layup and dunk in transition. Otherwise, he's been a nonfactor. Turnovers were an issue, too. Arkansas coughed it up 11 times, and Jalen Harris, Gafford and Mason Jones accounted for seven of them.

Auburn 42, Arkansas 14 - 2:57 left first half

Auburn guard Jared Harper became the fourth Tigers player to make at least two 3-pointers prior to the under-4 media timeout. Auburn is now 10-of-15 from 3-point range. Harper is a game-high plus-32 when on the floor.

Gabe Osabuohien and Daniel Gafford each have four points and Isaiah Joe knocked down the Razorbacks' 3 of the night. Razorbacks are 1-of-10 from deep and have turned the ball over 10 times. Jalen Harris has three while Gafford/Mason Jones have two apiece.

Auburn 32, Arkansas 9 - 7:50 left first half

The nightmare continues. Auburn has hit 8-of-11 3-point attempts so far. Five Tigers players have made at least one while Dunbar, Brown and Okeke each have a pair. Dunbar leads all scorers with eight points.

Daniel Gafford scored twice in a 16-second span, one on a dump down on the block and the other in transition on an alley oop from Jalen Harris. Razorbacks have turned it over seven times, are shooting 4-of-15 from the floor and 0-of-5 from distance.

Auburn 22, Arkansas 3 - 11:50 left first half

Following a Jalen Harris free throw to make it a 9-1 game, the Tigers reeled off 13 consecutive points behind three more 3-pointers and a pair of buckets at the rim. Auburn is 6-of-8 from deep so far.

Gabe Osabuohien has the Razorbacks' lone field goal to this point - a midrange jumper between the elbows. Austin Wiley will be at the line when play resumes. He was fouled by Reggie Chaney on a dunk attempt.

Auburn 14, Arkansas 1 - 16:11 left first half

Auburn opens the game knocking down 4 of its first 5 3-pointers, and this one is already getting out of hand. Each of the Tigers' starters launched a triple in the game's opening minutes, and an alley oop to Malik Dunbar forced Mike Anderson to call for time.

Arkansas is 0-of-4 from the floor and has missed both of its 3-point attempts early. Throw in a shot clock violation by the Razorbacks and it's been a nightmare start on the road.

Pregame

Arkansas' starting lineup: Jalen Harris, Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Adrio Bailey and Daniel Gafford.

This starting lineup has played 200 possessions together in SEC play this season and has been solid, especially on the defensive end. The group has held teams to .98 points per possession and turned them over on 19.5 percent of their possessions, per HoopLens. Opponents are shooting 44.3 percent on 2-point looks, which is great, and 32.1 from 3-point range. Solid numbers. All other lineups - over 666 defensive possessions - are allowing 1.09 PPP, 36 percent from deep and 52.7 percent on shots inside the arc. Arkansas' reserves need to bring it.

Arkansas also ranks dead last among Power 5 teams in opponent offensive rebound rate, according to KenPom. Auburn loves to shoot the 3 - 48.6 percent of its shots in SEC play are 3s - so grabbing long rebounds should be a priority and a lot will be on the guards to grab the 50-50 balls.

Auburn's starters: Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, Malik Dunbar, Chuma Okeke and Anfernee McLemore.

Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters make up one of the better guard duos in the conference, but no tandem, arguably, is as explosive offensively as Brown and Harper. And outside of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield at Tennessee, no two teammates average more per game than Pearl's pair. Brown and Harper both rank in the top 10 in scoring at 16.2 and 15.4 points per night. Auburn shoots the 3 at a 42 percent clip when the two share the floor, per HoopLens.

Defensively, the Tigers own the nation's third-best block rate at 17.2 percent, trailing only Syracuse and Duke. Horace Spencer has been best turning away shots in conference games, and McLemore is right behind him. Okeke and Dunbar are also capable shot blockers. Arkansas needs to be aggressive going at that group. And if Austin Wiley (6-11, 260) is fully available, things could be even tougher for the Razorbacks on the interior.

Running updates by Scottie Bordelon

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