No. 23 Auburn pulls away in 2nd half, tops Washington 84-61
SEATTLE (AP) — In between analyzing what went wrong the last time it was on the floor and preparing for its final game before the start of Southeastern Conference play, No. 23 Auburn took advantage of the snowstorm that blanketed the Seattle area.
The Tigers spent a bit of their downtime indulging in a snowball fight before going out and thumping Washington 84-61 on Wednesday night.
“That might have been the best thing we did,” coach Bruce Pearl joked.
Jaylin Williams scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half and Johni Broome also scored 18, and Tigers ran away in the second half to close out their two-game West Coast trip. Auburn (10-2) lost at Southern California last Sunday but bounced back impressively.
“We definitely needed a win. Playing at USC, we didn’t get the ‘W’ but at least we got one out of two,” Williams said.
Chris Moore added 12 points and Wendell Green Jr. added 11 for Auburn, which shot 21 of 29 (72.4%) in the second half and led by as many as 27.
“We made shots. We defended. Our guys should feel good about the progress we made on this trip,” Pearl said.
Keion Brooks Jr. led Washington (9-4) with 15 points and Koren Johnson scored 12, but it was a disappointing effort and another missed opportunity for the Huskies to earn an attention-grabbing victory.
It was the Huskies’ first home nonconference game against a ranked opponent other than Gonzaga in eight years and Washington fell flat, sending fans to the exits with plenty of time left.
“They made us do what they wanted to do and we didn’t stand our ground and it kind of took us out of our rhythm,” Brooks said.
Williams keyed a 14-0 run by the Tigers in a first half where scoring was difficult to come by. Auburn led by as many as 15 late in the first half and used another 15-2 run midway through the second half after Washington had pulled within six.
“Our defense just didn’t hold up. They shot 70% from the field, that’s not going to be winning numbers for us,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.
Auburn had lost two of its previous three games and Williams struggled offensively in both defeats. He had eight points in the loss to USC and scored five in a loss to Memphis on Dec. 10.
His first-half scoring punch was welcome. Auburn took a 27-12 lead thanks to its 14-0 run in which Williams had eight points.
Washington used a late spurt to pull within 31-23 at halftime, but the Huskies’ first half numbers were ugly: 21.2% shooting, seven turnovers and no player with more than five points.
Washington got within 39-33 before the Tigers pulled away. Broome had 12 points in the second half, making 6 of 7 shots. Auburn made nine straight baskets during one stretch, carving up Washington’s press defense with ease.
“Obviously, we’re gonna feel a little bit better about ourselves. Washington is not a great team. But they beat Colorado who beat Tennessee, they’ve got a win over Saint Mary’s. They’re good, they’re not great. So it’s a game we kind of needed,” Pearl said. “Look I told the guys before the game we’ve gotta have this. We want to go to the NCAA Tournament, right? Well, we gotta win games like this.”
Auburn: The Tigers had never played a regular season game in the Pacific Northwest. Auburn’s only other games against teams from the region were against Oregon in 2000 and Gonzaga in 2020, both at neutral sites.
Washington: The Huskies’ last nonconference home game against a ranked team other than Gonzaga was San Diego State on Dec. 7, 2014. Washington dropped to 5-16 against ranked opponents under Hopkins and 0-2 this season.
Auburn: The Tigers open SEC play next Wednesday, hosting Florida.
Washington: The Huskies return to Pac-12 play, hosting USC on Dec. 30.
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