AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers had a perfect response when a lopsided game suddenly got close: Don’t let the other team score.
Austin Wiley scored 18 points and No. 9 Auburn scored 35 consecutive points during a second-half stretch in a 103-52 victory over Mississippi College on Wednesday night.
Bryce Brown added 16 points for the Tigers (3-0), who went on a scoring tear of dunks, 3-pointers and fast-break baskets after the Division II Choctaws (1-2) briefly closed the gap.
“Our energy was a little down,” Wiley said. “We came together and we were like, `Come on.’ We know the team isn’t up to our caliber. We were just like we can’t play down to any opponent so we’ve just got to wake up, pick up and just finish out the game.”
Mississippi College cut a 25-point deficit down to 51-40 early in the second half.
Things got really ugly after that, though. Auburn reclaimed control emphatically with a 52-5 run that included a stretch when Mississippi College went more than 11 minutes without scoring
Six Auburn players scored in double figures. Horace Spencer had career-highs with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Samir Doughty scored 13, Jared Harper 12 and Malik Dunbar 10.
The 6-foot-11 Wiley dominated a team that didn’t have a starter taller than 6-5. He scored six straight points after coming off the bench in the first half, making 5 of 7 shots and 8 of 10 free-throw attempts. Wiley, who collected seven rebounds, had played only 13 minutes in the last game against Washington after missing the opener with a foot injury.
He did his damage in this one in just 16 minutes.
“It was good to give him the ball, get him moving, shake some of that rust off,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Brandon Boston led the Choctaws with nine points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Lytle and Donovan Ham each had eight. Lytle had seven quick points during the brief second-half rally, and the Choctaws scored the final seven.
Mississippi College coach Don Lofton aggravated a hip injury on the bus before the game. He listened to the game on the radio from the locker room while assistant Erik Ainsworth ran the team.
“I’d have been in the way if I came out there,” Lofton said after coming out of the locker room on crutches.
Auburn jumped ahead 25-2 over the first 10 minutes, but Mississippi College answered with eight straight points.
Boston’s off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer cut it to 48-29 at halftime.
Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, the reigning Southeastern Conference player of the week, didn’t score in the first half. He had three points and seven rebounds.
Mississippi College: Dropped its second straight to a team from Alabama, including an 88-84 overtime defeat to Talladega.
Auburn: Has just its third 3-0 start in the last 12 years, with three straight lopsided wins. Built the big lead despite mediocre shooting, going 4 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half.
The two teams had played twice before, but it’s been awhile. Mississippi College won 59-44 in 1939 and Auburn won 88-54 in 1981.
Mississippi College was a late addition to Auburn’s schedule. “We just could not get a quality Division I opponent that wasn’t going to hurt our RPI,” Pearl said, noting the win won’t count in the power ratings or NCAA Tournament resume.
Mississippi College hosts Henderson State on Saturday.
Auburn plays Xavier on Monday in the Maui Invitational.
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