AUBURN, Ala.— Bryce Brown took one dribble from the corner nearest his bench, rose up and buried a 3-pointer, all but icing a massive win for Auburn’s NCAA Tournament aspirations.
Brown scored 24 points, Anfernee McLemore added 14 and Auburn ended Mississippi State’s five-game winning streak 80-75 on Saturday.
After Auburn led by 19 with six minutes to play, the Bulldogs got within four with less than three minutes to play, thanks to a 17-2 run spearheaded by guards Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter.
Brown hit the corner 3-pointer with 1:09 left before Jared Harper’s layup with 40 seconds to play. Harper followed with a pair of free throws after a Bulldogs miss to help the Tigers hold on.
“It was great to see Bryce catching and sticking and playing with real efficiency,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “It was one of the better games that Bryce has played, and it was timely.”
After all four of his shots in the first half and making just two free throws, finished with 10 points and had nine assists with no turnovers, marking the best single-game assist-to-turnover ratio of his three-year career.
After committing a season-high 19 turnovers in its road loss to Mississippi State in January, Auburn (20-9, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) had just 10 giveaways while the Bulldogs coughed up 18 turnovers, their second-most of the season.
“Usually, when you win the battle of the boards by 20, you win the game,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. “Eighteen turnovers were a killer because (Auburn) scored 20 off of them.”
Mississippi State (21-8, 9-7) was led by Weatherspoon, who scored 25 points for his eighth 20-plus-point performance in league play this season. Carter added 21.
With 3:37 remaining in the first half, Brown hit the 335th 3-pointer of his career, giving him sole possession of fifth place in SEC career list, passing Ole Miss’ Chris Warren (2007-11). Auburn’s senior shooting guard finished 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.
“I do not want to see them again this year,” Pearl said. “That is a team that can go in the NCAA Tournament and make some real noise.”
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs fell to 26-4 all-time in games Weatherspoon scores 20-plus.
Auburn: The win secures the Tigers’ 11th 20-win season in program history. … Brown, who shot a combined 5-for-19 in Auburn’s two previous games, recorded his first 20-point game since scoring 23 on Feb. 2 against Alabama.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to No. 7 Tennessee on Tuesday. The Vols beat No. 4 Kentucky 71-52 on Saturday.
Auburn: The Tigers face rival Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday.