OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Auburn was struggling to put away a mediocre Mississippi team in the second half when Bryce Brown made a crucial 3-pointer to give the Tigers a little separation.
The smooth-shooting junior was just getting started.
Brown made several crucial shots down the stretch, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the second half to lead No. 11 Auburn over Ole Miss 79-70 on Tuesday night.
“Bryce has got a different gear,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “He’s got a confidence and a swagger. He’s fearless.”
Brown’s big game earned Auburn its first win over Ole Miss in Oxford in nearly 10 years. He shot 9 of 16 from the field and made three 3-pointers.
Auburn (20-2, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) beat Ole Miss for the second time this season. Mustapha Heron added 16 points for the Tigers. Jared Harper had 13 points and seven assists.
Brown made the difference during a crucial stretch of the second half when Auburn used a 13-2 run to turn a narrow lead into a 72-57 advantage. The 6-foot-3 guard shook off a slow start and some early foul trouble to pick apart the Ole Miss defense when it mattered most.
“That was the biggest difference in the second half — I was in attack mode,” Brown said.
Ole Miss (11-11, 4-5) lost for the first time at home during conference play. The Rebels were led by Deandre Burnett, who scored 16 points. Terence Davis, Markel Crawford and Devontae Shuler each added 11.
Auburn won despite shooting 39 percent from the field. One reason is the Tigers were able to extend several possessions thanks to 19 offensive rebounds.
“They killed us on the glass,” Crawford said. “Whenever a team comes in and gets 19 offensive rebounds — 12 in the second half — I don’t think you’ve got a good chance of winning against a good team like that.”
Auburn hit six 3-pointers in the first half on the way to a 38-36 halftime lead. The Rebels managed to keep the game close despite rampant foul trouble — seven players had two fouls before the break.
Ole Miss trailed the entire second half. The Rebels were hurt by 17 turnovers.
“It comes down to decision making and playing through contact,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “These games are hard to win, and you’ve got to play through some contact. They knocked us off our spot a little bit, and we didn’t handle the ball as well as we needed to.”
Auburn: The Tigers jumped eight spots in the most recent AP Top 25 poll and rewarded the voters’ confidence with a gritty road win. Auburn has another very winnable game this weekend when it hosts Vanderbilt.
Ole Miss: The Rebels still have a decent RPI considering their mediocre record, but they’re quickly running out of chances to make a late push into NCAA Tournament at-large consideration. Ole Miss faces a crucial road game this weekend against Tennessee.
Auburn’s stock continues to rise and with very good reason. The Tigers are at the top of the heap of the SEC and Florida’s loss to Georgia on Tuesday means Auburn now has a two-game lead on the rest of the pack.