Rapid Reaction: Texas A&M shocks Auburn, plays itself off of NCAA bubble
Coming off a dramatic win over Florida, Texas A&M continued its hot play in Tampa, Florida at the SEC Tournament and came out strong against Auburn.
Thanks to a strong start, the No. 8-seeded Aggies withstood a second-half counter punch from No. 1-seeded Auburn and prevailed on Friday, 67-62, for a huge upset on Championship Week.
While the Aggies came out hot, on the flip side, Auburn struggled shooting, especially outside of Jabari Smith who was the only offense early on for the Tigers. When Smith was 3-for-4, the other Auburn players were a combined 2-for-22. At one point, Auburn was 5-for-31 from the field, and the Aggies kept up the pressure to lead by 16 points at halftime.
The Aggies were led by Tyrece Radford, who had 19 points, as Henry Coleman III had 17 and Quenton Jackson had 16 points. Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler had 17 and 16 points for Auburn.
Auburn’s Wendell Green Jr. nailed a pair of 3-pointers to pull Auburn within 5 points with 1:56 remaining. But Jackson responded with a thunderous dunk off an out-of-bounds play coming out of a timeout. Then Jackson made a block on a fastbreak play to preserve a 6-point lead with 51.9 seconds remaining.
Quenton Jackson said NOPE 🚫 pic.twitter.com/9NGR8oF4sJ
— ESPN (@espn) March 11, 2022
Green, though, fouled out with 32 seconds left on an offensive foul amid Aggie pressure.
After its early struggles, Auburn midway through the second half roared back on a 13-3 run after the Aggies built their lead to 20 points with 11:00 remaining. For most of the game, the Aggies had an answer at every turn, and usually late in the shot clock.
The Aggies advance to play the winner of Arkansas-LSU on Saturday.
Boots ain’t scared. Fact.
— Texas A&M Basketball (@aggiembk) March 11, 2022
The Aggies took advantage of Auburn big man Walker Kessler having 2 fouls in the first half, and went after him regularly, especially Coleman. Coleman had 12 points in the first half as he drove against Kessler.
Auburn was just 3-for-20 from 3-point in the first half, while the Aggies were 5-for-9, and the only first-half blemish for A&M was that Auburn had 11 offensive rebounds, to just 4 for A&M. Auburn’s cold shooting was just 16 percent in first half from the field, while the Aggies were 45 percent. A&M had 18 fastbreak points to Auburn’s 5, and outscored Auburn 16-4 in the paint.