Auburn went into halftime Friday evening in Annapolis, Md., feeling as if it had a possession stolen. The shot clock seemed to freeze as Davidson dribbled up the court and hit a 3-pointer that cut a deficit that had been as large as 13 points down to just two at the break.
But the 23rd-ranked Tigers came out of the locker room hot. Danjel Purifoy hit a 3, Samir Doughty knifed into the lane for a layup and J’Von McCormick converted a three-point play during a quick burst that pushed their advantage back to double digits.
That ability to answer was crucial in a 76-66 victory over Davidson in the Veterans Classic on Friday. Because the well-coached and veteran-laden Wildcats hung around throughout the night. They trailed by no more than eight points from the 10-minute mark of the second half all the way into the game’s final three minutes.
But they never got within five, either. Auburn led wire to wire, and in the end, it found another burst — one of Anfernee McLemore’s game-high three blocks led to a fastbreak McCormick layup, and the next time down the floor, McCormick found McLemore for the alley-oop that made it a 10-point game with 2:04 to play.
“At the end of the game, Anfernee McLemore, absolutely ratchets the whole thing up on both ends, offensively and defense and makes winning plays,” head coach Bruce Pearl said on the Auburn Sports Network.
McLemore (12 points) and McCormick (10) were two of five Tigers to finish in double figures on Friday. Freshman Isaac Okoro led the way with 17 points, Purifoy poured in 14, and Doughty chipped in 11. Austin Wiley scored only five points but had 10 rebounds.
Auburn travels to Mobile to take on South Alabama next on Tuesday.