ATLANTA – Kendric Davis scored a season-high 27 points, DeAndre Williams added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Memphis beat No. 11 Auburn 82-73 on Saturday night to end the Tigers’ season-opening winning streak at eight.
Davis’ jumper beat the shot-clock buzzer to make it 60-50 with 11:18 remaining, and Memphis (8-2) was never threatened again. The closest Auburn got was an eight-point deficit on K.D. Johnson’s free throws with 3:04 left.
“We were playing a top team on one of the biggest stages there was today,” Davis said. “You always want to leave your impact. It’s urgent when you play these types of teams because it’s a resume win and you don’t have too many of them. It’s good we got it done.”
Wendell Green Jr. and Johnson each scpred 14 points and Chris Moore had 12 for Auburn (8-1), which began the day as one of 10 unbeaten teams in the nation.
Green’s offensive foul wiped out his basket and a missed layup by Moore in the closing minutes, and coach Bruce Pearl was called for a technical with 1:30 remaining to end Auburn’s last hope. Davis made two free throws to make it 75-65 heading into the final minute.
“That crowd was loud as hell,” Davis said. “It was like we were at their arena. I’m glad we stayed together. They made a run and the crowd got super loud and we answered every time they answered. That was the best thing. We’ve been in some tough games this year, man.”
Auburn was trying to get off to a 9-0 start for the second time in nine seasons under Pearl, whose 2019-20 team started 15-0.
“We have a defense where we shouldn’t let them split the ball screen,” Johnson said. “That was happening a lot so that fuels a lot of things on the back end. If we would’ve cleaned that up and stopped them then, we probably could’ve had a couple more points to get to in the end.”
Davis, the reigning player of the year in the American Athletic Conference, came up limping on the baseline late in the first but stayed in the game and played a team-high 38 minutes. He has played with a sore ankle most of the season but went 9 for 19 from the field and had six assists and nine rebounds.
One game after setting season highs with 93 points and 10 3s in a lopsided win over Colgate, Auburn shot just 38.1% and went 6 for 24 beyond the arc.
Memphis began the game averaging just 13 turnovers per game and committed 19.
“We know this was a big win for us,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “Auburn is a tough, tough, tough team. Physically, they’re No. 1 at protecting the rim with blocks, and we knew what it was going to be like to come in here. We wanted to be the tougher team mentally and physically because you know how hard coach Pearl’s teams are going to play.”
Auburn: The Tigers came into the game eighth in the nation in offensive rebounds but had just one at halftime and finished with 11. Auburn was outrebounded 42-33, a deficiency that went a long way to explain why Auburn had so many one-shot possessions and struggled to get back on defense against Memphis’ transition.
Memphis: The Tigers overcame foul trouble in the first half with starters Williams and Alex Lomax and reserve Malcolm Dandridge each getting whistled three times. Starter Chandler Wilson was called for two fouls, but Memphis settled into a zone defense to limit the fouls and force Auburn into low-percentage shots. Dandridge fouled out early in the second half.
Memphis: At No. 8 Alabama on Tuesday night.
Auburn” Hosts Georgia State on Wednesday night.