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Alabama knocks off unbeaten No. 4 Auburn

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Alabama dropped previously-unbeaten rival Auburn with an 83-64 home win on Wednesday night.

College basketball is down to only one undefeated team with the loss for the No. 4 Tigers.

The Crimson Tide took advantage of an off-night from the Tigers to jump out to an early lead and hold on from there. It helped that Kira Lewis Jr. came through with 25 points and a strong effort on the defensive end. Lewis played in attack mode while still making strong decisions, driving the Alabama offense to a strong night.

Lewis was also a menace on the defensive end. The sophomore was tasked with guarding Samir Doughty or J’Von McCormick. Lewis came through by helping to shut both of them down. Herb Jones complimented Lewis with a strong two-way effort of his own, finishing with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

The win jumps Alabama to 9-7 and 2-2 in the SEC. They’re still a long way from thinking about an NCAA tournament bid. But a rivalry win like this over a top-five team could jumpstart bigger things. Particularly if Lewis plays like this every night. At the very least, this is an early signature win for new head coach Nate Oats.

The real story in this one is the collapse of Auburn during a rivalry game. The Tigers (15-1, 3-1) started the game 3-for-18 from the field. Things didn’t get much better from there. Turning the ball over a season-high 21 times and shooting 56 percent from the free-throw line, Auburn had a terrible night completing even the fundamentals. Auburn shot a season-low 32 percent from the field.

Outside of Isaac Okoro (13 points) and Austin Wiley (10 points, 13 rebounds), nobody on Auburn really stepped up on the road Wednesday night.

Although losing a rivalry game hurts, the pressure of being an undefeated team halfway through January is also tough to deal with. The Tigers were always going to be the hunted coming off of last season’s Final Four appearance. But there’s a little extra bullseye on a team’s back if they’re still undefeated at this point in the season. This loss takes a small amount of pressure off of Auburn as they regroup for the rest of conference season.

One thing is for sure, Auburn has to come with more intensity on the road next time. A lackluster effort from the start in a rivalry game is not assuring for a team trying to make another deep run in March.

San Diego State is now the final undefeated college hoops team for the 2019-20 season.

Ten Things to Know: Long road losing streaks end during wild day of college hoops

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College basketball was all about big road wins.

The Big 12 and ACC saw two huge road losing streaks end. The rest of the day saw some upsets along with an injury to keep tabs on.

BAYLOR GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN IN PHOG ALLEN FIELDHOUSE

Everything you need to know about the biggest game of the day can be found right here.

CLEMSON GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN (IN 60 TRIES!) IN CHAPEL HILL

Clemson basketball kicked off a big sports weekend for the school. The Tigers snapped their 0-59 mark in Chapel Hill with a 79-76 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

Brad Brownell’s team celebrated in euphoric fashion.

This isn’t your typical ACC road win. It was one of the premier streaks in college basketball. Clemson and North Carolina first played men’s basketball during the 1925-26 season. Both programs are founding members of the ACC.

Same conference.

Since 1953.

So for the Tigers to FINALLY earn a win in Chapel Hill, even if North Carolina happens to be down right now, is a monumental accomplishment.

For North Carolina, the recent freefall continues. The Tar Heels have lost three straight and dropped to 1-4 in ACC play. Following the loss, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams made some emotional remarks blaming himself.

Even though North Carolina is well outside of the top 25, they remain one of the most compelling teams in college hoops.

WEST VIRGINIA SHUTS DOWN TEXAS TECH

Things weren’t particularly pretty in Morgantown on Saturday night. Using seemingly its whole roster to wear down the Red Raiders, West Virginia earned an impressive Big 12 home win.

Despite only making three shots from three-point range on the night, West Virginia held a comfortable advantage thanks to one of the nation’s best defenses. The Mountaineers held Texas Tech to 28 percent shooting. The Red Raiders simply had no answer for the swarm of West Virginia defenders.

While West Virginia has continued to climb up the national rankings with an underrated array of quad one wins, this is one of the program’s best wins this season. The Mountaineers are surely a contender in the Big 12. The major question becomes if they are more than just a conference title contender. And more of a potential national title contender.

NICK RICHARDS IS THE KEY TO KENTUCKY’S SEASON

Over the course of the last four games, No. 14 Kentucky has asserted themselves as one of the best teams in college basketball once again. They’ve knocked off Louisville, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama during that run, and it should come as no coincidence that the best stretch of Kentucky’s season has come at the same time that Nick Richards has played the best basketball of his career.

In those four games, Richards is averaging 16.0 points, 10.0 boards and 2.5 blocks, but more importantly, he’s staying on the floor for more than 29 minutes per game. He’s starting to figure things out, and that, in turn, has helped build his confidence, his belief in himself.

“You can’t coach a kid’s confidence,” a source close to Kentucky said. “He needs to build it himself.”

He’s posting harder, he’s demanding the ball, he’s doing all of the things that Kentucky has been waiting for him to two do two-and-a-half years. And it hasn’t only helped Richards, the guards that feed him the rock have confidence in him as well. If you’re a point guard and you know Richards doesn’t want the ball, are you going to give him a post touch? Are you going to throw a post entry when you don’t think anything good will happen?

Saturday proved my point.

In the first half against Alabama, Richards had 11 points, six boards and four blocks, and Kentucky went into the break with a 45-35 lead. He finished with just two points in the second half, and Alabama cut the lead to one in the final two minutes.

OHIO STATE HAS NOW LOST FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES

The 12th-ranked Buckeyes dropped to 11-5 on the season and 1-4 in the Big Ten after losing their fourth straight game on Saturday, 66-54, to Indiana.

During that four game losing streak, Ohio State has shot 28-for-97 from three, a cool 28.9 percent. Prior to the start of this losing streak, after they beat Kentucky in Las Vegas and when they were sitting at No. 1 in KenPom and splitting votes with Gonzaga for No. 1 in the AP poll, the Buckeyes were shooting 41.5 percent from three as a team.

The reason why they are struggling from beyond the arc is a bigger question. Part of it is just regression — water eventually finds itself — and part of it is that as D.J. Carton has struggled, who had seven turnovers on Saturday, Ohio State’s offense has struggled. They don’t have the individual playmakers to create offense for themselves, and if Carton (and C.J. Walker) are struggling to create easy shots for their teammates, Ohio State becomes really limited offensively.

Oh, and should I mention that Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, Duane Washington, didn’t take a single shot and was benched for the final 30 minutes. He’s either hurt or Chris Holtmann is fed up with his defensive lapses.

Either way, what was clicking for the first month of the season is clearly no longer working.

AUBURN AND SAN DIEGO STATE ARE STILL UNDEFEATED

The No. 5 Tigers cruised past Georgia at home, winning 82-60, while the No. 7 Aztecs took care of business against Boise State at home, 83-65.

Auburn’s biggest tests of the season to date will come next week, as they travel to take on Alabama and Florida. SDSU heads to Fresno State on Tuesday and then will host Nevada next weekend.

OBI TOPPIN ROLLED HIS ANKLE

The star big man for No. 15 Dayton stepped on someone’s foot early in the second half of an 88-60 win over UMass and had to leave the game. He ended up leaving the game and returning to his team’s bench with a boot on his left foot.

Toppin told reporters after the game that, “it’s good.” Head coach Anthony Grant, speaking in his press conference after the game, said that he thought it was a sprained ankle and that the team would know more in the next 24 hours, but he did not sound overly concerned.

VIRGINIA DROPS SECOND STRAIGHT TO UNRANKED OPPONENT

It’s looking like defending national champion Virginia will fall out of the top 25 next week. A second consecutive loss to an unranked team on Saturday likely sealed the Cavaliers’ new fate.

After falling on the road at Boston College last game, Virginia fell to Syracuse at home.  The Orange earned an unlikely overtime win while also avenging its season-opening home loss to the ‘Hoos.

Hitting some massive three-pointers once overtime started, the Orange played completely free and with a lot of confidence once the extra session started. It also pointed to a continuing glaring issue Virginia has faced. Who is this team’s go-to player when they need a bucket?

Things don’t get easier for Virginia when they head on the road to Florida State next game. With three of their next four coming on the road, the Cavaliers have some work to do to stay with the ACC’s best.

GONZAGA AND DUKE CRUISE TO VICTORY

Easy day for No. 1 and No. 2 on Saturday.

Gonzaga made quick work of Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs won by 25 on the road.

In the ACC, Duke ran past Wake Forest. The Blue Devils were fueled by Tre Jones in a 31-point victory.

MYLES POWELL, SETON HALL OUTDUEL MARKUS HOWARD, MARQUETTE

CBT’s Preseason All-America Team featured Myles Powell and Markus Howard both on the first team.

So Saturday’s Big East clash between Seton Hall and Marquette was must-see TV. Both stars finished an identical 8-for-22 from the field as Howard dropped 27 points and Powell delivered 23 points.

Most importantly, however, was the Pirates claiming the 69-55 Big East win. Seton Hall has six straight wins since Powell returned to the lineup from a concussion. Saturday’s win gives the Pirates a leg up on the rest of the league and Powell a leg up on Howard with one matchup to go.

Not many people seem to be talking about Seton Hall. That’s a mistake. This team is playing really well over the last several weeks and look like the possible team to beat in the Big East.

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.