Auburn Basketball: Tigers vs Xavier Final Score and Game Recap


The Auburn basketball team relies on senior guards K.T. Harrell and Antoine Mason to do a lot of the heavy lifting and a lot of the scoring.

But tonight belonged to Malcolm Canada.

Canada not only hit two free throws with 0:14 left in double overtime to give the Tigers an 89-88 lead over Xavier, he provided a spark off the bench that led a huge second half comeback to help secure the first signature win of the Bruce Pearl era at Auburn.

Dec 20, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers guard Malcolm Canada (00) is fouled by Xavier Musketeers forward Jalen Reynolds (1) during the second half at Auburn Arena. The Tigers beat the Musketeers 89-88 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The senior finished with 15 points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists, but his impact reached far beyond the stat sheet.

With a crowd louder than Auburn Arena has had this season, the Tigers played well though the first 13 minutes of the game, holding a 17-17 tie with 7:07 left in the first half. However, Xavier took advantage of early Auburn foul trouble and some great looks at the basket to close with a 21-8 run before halftime.

The Tigers, led by Canada’s grit, determination and a blatant disregard for his bodily well-being, hung around and chipped away at the deficit. With 2:29 left in regulation, Harrell hit a three-pointer to give Auburn its first lead since a 9-8 score early in the first half.

K.C. Ross-Miller had a busy last 90 seconds of regulation. The senior hit a clutch jumper to give the Tigers a three-point lead with 1:23 left to play, then drew a charge on the following possession. Ross-Miller immediately gave the ball back to Xavier with an unforced turnover, but then stole a pass and hit a layup with 0:39 left to push the lead to five. He finished with eight points, four steals, three rebounds and an assist off the bench.

Unfortunately, however, Auburn couldn’t hold on, and the Musketeers kept fighting back.

But so did the Tigers.

Cinmeon Bowers drove to the basket for a clutch layup with 0:09 on the clock, but two Remy Abell free throws and a Bowers turnover sent the game to overtime.

Bowers spent a chunk of time on the bench in the first half because he earned three personal fouls in the first 15 minutes of the game. He fouled out in the first overtime period. The junior big man had 17 points, but only six rebounds, snapping a two-game double-doubles streak.

With Bowers sidelined, freshman Trayvon Reed played important minutes late. The 7-foot-2 center, in only his third game with the Auburn basketball team, had four points, five rebounds, five blocks and a nifty assist that led to a Ross-Miller layup.

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Harrell once again led all scorers with 24. He added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. Mason had 12 points, three boards, two assists and a steal.

Overall, Auburn shot 49.3% from the field (33-for-67), but struggled with 22.7% from the three-point line (5-for-22), and hit only 18 of 29 free throw attempts (62.1%). The Tigers were out rebounded 41-37, but the team found a way to win it in the end and move to 5-5 this season.

The victory is a quality one for the Tigers’ post-season resume. Xavier entered the game with an 8-2 record, and is expected to contend for the Big East title.

Now 5-5 following a tough early schedule, Auburn will attempt to build momentum off the win, carry it through three more non-conference home games and into SEC play in January.

Next up for the Tigers is the third of a five-game home stretch Tuesday against 2-8 Texas Southern – a team that picked up their own big win today, an upset over Michigan State.

Next: Previews & Predictions For Every 2014-15 Bowl Game

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