Auburn was the lower seed but showed why it was the betting favorite for its first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Iowa. The No. 9 seed Tigers defeated the No. 8 seed Hawkeyes 83-75 Thursday.

Auburn took a 14-12 lead at the 10:24 mark of the first half and never looked back. In total, the Tigers led for more than 34 minutes of game time. The Hawkeyes, though, refused to go away.

AU’s largest lead was a 58-41 advantage with 10:50 remaining in the game. Iowa stormed back to get it all the way down to 66-62 with 4:10 to go. Auburn has blown leads before, but the Tigers held on strong in the final stretch Thursday, getting it back above double digits before the final buzzer.

Auburn and Iowa were statistically close in many lines of the box score, but the Tigers notably took advantage of fast break opportunities. Auburn scored 26 fast break points to Iowa’s 8.

A pair of AU players posted double-doubles. Johni Broome had team-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds. It was one of the best NCAA Tournament performances by an SEC player in over 10 years.

Allen Flanigan was Auburn’s other double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Wendell Green Jr. (15 points), Jaylin Williams (11 points), K.D. Johnson (11 points) and Tre Donaldson (11 points) also reached double figures.

Auburn will face the winner of No. 1 seed Houston and No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky on Saturday.