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No. 18 Auburn routs Richmond to win Legends Classic

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NEW YORK — Auburn is first and foremost a school that’s known for its football program.

Which is fine with Bruce Pearl, who believes the Tigers are “a pretty good basketball team right now.”

And he has the school’s first in-season tournament championship since 2004 to make his argument for him.

“Our guys came to Auburn to make history,” Pearl said after No. 18 Auburn to a 79-65 win over Richmond in the championship game of the Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

“That was important to our team.”

Samir Doughty scored 22 points to lead the Tigers. Austin Wiley, who was named the tournament MVP, scored 18 points. He joined Doughty on the all-tournament team, along with Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers, and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden.

Daniel Purifoy chipped in with 13 for Auburn, which improved to 7-0 overall, and 3-1 in four all-time meetings against the Spiders.

“Guys are beginning to see the dimensions that we have,” Pearl said. “We have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to be blessed (with).”

Following a five-game winning streak, Richmond dropped to 5-1 with its first loss of the season.

Golden led the Spiders with 14. Gilyard and Nick Sherod finished with 12 each.

“I just thought we didn’t have quite enough energy for shotmaking to hang in longer in the second half,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “They’re a very good team.”

Trailing 35-34 at the half, Auburn opened the second half with an 11-4 run in a span of 4:27 to take a 45-39 lead. The advantage grew to 53-41 on Jamal Johnson’s layup at 13:10.

After Richmond cut the deficit to 56-49, Wiley finished the next two possessions with a two-handed dunk and a tip-in, causing Mooney to call a time out.

“Hats off to them,” Mooney said.

Auburn’s lead grew to as much as 22 in the final minutes.

“One of their players–I’m not going to say who–came up to me and was like, ‘(You guys) are killing us right now,’ Doughty said. “Each and every team we’ve been playing throughout the year has been saying that in the second half. Once he said that, I just told my guys, ‘Let’s keep that foot on the pedal, let’s run the score up a little bit more, let’s get those guys who are not really playing into the game.'”

Gilyard’s running floater at the buzzer gave Richmond a 35-34 lead to cap a first half that the Spiders started quick and finished fast. Richmond scored 15 points in the first 12:34 and ended the first half by scoring 16 points in the final 7:48.

INJURY REPORT:

Golden suffered an ankle injury landing after a basket with 1:44 left. Golden laid on the court for more than five minutes while he was being tended to by trainers, before behind helped to the Spiders’ bench. Mooney said Golden twisted his ankle “in the first game of the year. It’s the same ankle. Structurally it seems to be okay but it’s probably something else he’ll have to be dealing with during the course of the next few days.”

UP NEXT:

Auburn: Hosts Furman on Dec. 5.

Richmond: Hosts Boston College Saturday.

VIDEO: Okoro’s layup lifts No. 22 Auburn past South Alabama, 70-69

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MOBILE, Ala. — Freshman Isaac Okoro made a layup with 2.9 seconds left to lift No. 22 Auburn to a 70-69 victory over South Alabama on Tuesday night.

Samir Doughty twice rebounded missed 3-pointers for the Tigers (3-0), setting up the game-winning shot. Okoro hit the shot while falling down in the lane and drew a foul. He missed the free throw, but it didn’t matter.

Andre Fox hit back-to-back 3-pointers in between an Okoro basket to give South Alabama a 69-68 lead with 28 seconds left. That capped a 22-8 South Alabama run.

Okoro had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for Auburn. Jamal Johnson scored 14 and made 4 of 5 3-pointers. Anfernee McLemore also had 14 points while Doughty had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Fox led the Jaguars (2-1) with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds. Josh Ajayi scored 15.

The game was played in front of the largest crowd in Mitchell Center history, 10,068.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: Okoro, The Tigers made 10 of 24 3-pointers but were just 12 of 22 from the free throw line. Still searching for a consistent lineup to replace stars Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and China Okeke off last year’s Final Four team.

South Alabama: Trailed by 10 points with four minutes left. Fox scored 11 of the Jaguars’ final 13 points. Lost by 40 to Auburn last season.

UP NEXT

Auburn hosts Cal State, Northridge Friday night.

South Alabama visits Chattanooga Friday night.

Doughty, No. 24 Auburn top Georgia Southern 83-74 in opener

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AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers debuted their new look, minus the stars that led them to the program’s first Final Four and also without the barrage of 3-pointers.

Samir Doughty scored 20 points to lead No. 24 Auburn to an 83-74 victory over Georgia Southern on Tuesday night in the opener for both teams.

The formula was different: Auburn made just seven 3-pointers. That’s 11 fewer than their debut last season against South Alabama when the Tigers were on their way to setting the Southeastern Conference single-season mark.

There’s no Bryce Brown, Jared Harper or Chuma Okeke firing away.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got the win,” said Austin Wiley, who had 13 points and nine rebounds for Auburn. “We’ve got to do better at not turning the ball over and just rebounding the ball better.”

The Tigers could never quite pull away from the Sun Belt Conference’s Eagles. But Doughty made five of six free throws over the final 1:09 to avoid a late scare.

“They’re a great ball club so we didn’t expect to come in here and blow these guys out,” Doughty said. “We know they’re an older team, so we knew it was going to be a dog fight. We talked about that this whole week.”

Auburn took a 61-48 lead eight minutes into the second half with Danjel Purifoy’s 3-pointer punctuating a quick eight-point flurry.

Purifoy scored 13 points while making three 3s. Freshman Isaac Okoro scored 12 points in his debut. New point guard J’von McCormick had nine points and four assists.

Ike Smith, who took a medical redshirt last season after missing 23 games, scored 16 points for Georgia Southern. He was a first-team All-Sun Belt performer two years ago.

Isaiah Crawley also scored 16 while Elijah McCadden finished with 12 points.

Auburn had to replace those three stars from a team that fell to eventual champion Virginia in the Final Four. This one started four seniors and Okoro, the team’s top new recruit.

“This team’s going to get better, fast,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Hopefully fast. Georgia Southern’s going to have a good year.”

Auburn took a 41-37 lead into halftime after freshman Devan Cambridge made back-to-back 3-pointers over the final 1:23.

“Bruce Pearl has built this program into a juggernaut,” Georgia Southern coach Mark Byington said. “We knew we were coming into a tough environment. They have a very talented team.

“Our guys were excited to play and see where they were against a Top-25 team.”

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Southern: The Eagles are trying for another strong season after back-to-back 21-12 records but are replacing Sun Belt player of the year Tookie Brown. They were outrebounded 41-27.

Auburn: The Tigers were ranked in the preseason for just the sixth time and second straight season. They committed 21 turnovers, including a wave of them early. Auburn improved to 8-0 against Georgia Southern.

OKORO’S DEBUT

The four-star recruit was 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, and made one late shot while falling to the floor.

“We’re going to use him a lot more than y’all think,” Doughty said.

CARTER SUSPENDED

Georgia Southern announced before the game that senior forward Simeon Carter has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Carter averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, mostly off the bench.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

Auburn held a moment of silence before the game to honor longtime broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula, who were killed in a car accident on May 25.

UP NEXT

Georgia Southern makes its home debut Friday night against Reinhardt.

Auburn faces Davidson at the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday.

Auburn lands 2019 commitment from three-star wing

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Auburn landed a late commitment for the 2019-20 season on Wednesday night as three-star athletic wing Devan Cambridge pledged to the Tigers.

A 6-foot-6, 215-pound wing, Cambridge had a very strong showing at the Nike Peach Jam last week as he averaged 16.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game during pool play at the event. A big-time athlete who easily gets off the floor, Cambridge fits Auburn’s athletic, up-and-down style as he’s accustomed to playing fast and making plays with his game-changing athleticism.

Cambridge joins a seven-man mega class for the Tigers as he’s a versatile athlete who should play a number of different spots. Cambridge is still working to become more of a consistent perimeter shooting presence, but Auburn has landed a solid late commitment because there aren’t many better pure athletes in the class. If the Tigers can develop Cambridge and take their time with his development then he could turn into a very useful player.

Former NBA referee Rashan Michel accepts plea deal in third college hoops corruption case

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Rashan Michel, a former NBA referee and lone remaining defendant in the third federal college basketball corruption case, accepted a plea deal from prosecutors on Tuesday.

Michel was initially charged with six felony counts related to soliciting bribes, wire fraud and travel act conspiracy as he pled guilty of bribery conspiracy. Federal prosecutors had accused Michel of accepting bribes from Sept. 2016 through Sept. 2017.

In March, former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, Michel’s co-defendant in the case, agreed to plead guilty for taking bribes to influence Tigers players to sign with certain financial advisors when they went pro. Person is currently scheduled for sentencing on July 9 as he faces up to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.

Michel was a suit maker for professional athletes after being an NBA referee from 1997-2001. He helped allegedly broker a relationship between Person and cooperating government witness Marty Blazer.

A $50,000 loan was made to Person from Blazer as the Auburn assistant agreed to steer players towards Blazer once they went pro. According to prosecutors, Person arranged for Blazer to meet with Auburn players and their parents at Person’s home during Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017.

Michel’s trial was scheduled to begin in New York on June 17 as his plea agreement ends the upcoming third college basketball corruption trial.

The first trial led to convictions from runner Christian Dawkins, Adidas consultant Merl Code and Adidas executive James Gatto in October as they were hit with conspiracy and fraud charges. In that trial, the focus was a pay-to-play scheme to help send elite recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs.

Jurors are currently still deliberating in the second trial — which also involves Dawkins and Code — as the two men are accused of bribing college basketball assistants to steer their players towards Dawkins’ new sports management company.

Without the third trial, and with the jury likely wrapping things up in the second trial this week, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the federal college basketball corruption cases. The black cloud that has been cast over the sport the past two seasons might finally start to subside.

But the NCAA will probably begin its investigations of the schools who have been mentioned in the trial shortly. It’s hard to say where things will go with the upcoming NCAA investigations, but the federal trial element of these corruption cases appears to be over for now.

WATCH: Auburn fans react to Tigers’ heartbreaking loss to Virginia in the Final Four

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Auburn lost a heartbreaker to Virginia in the Final Four on Saturday night as the Tigers had a controversial late call upend their memorable NCAA tournament run.

Fans of Auburn went from a near upset to a crushing defeat in mere moments as Tigers fans all over the country reacted to the emotional swing on social media.

From Charles Barkley at the stadium, to Auburn students at Toomer’s Corner, the reactions show how things can change so quickly for sports fans at the end of a game.