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 Chris CLEMONS
  Campbell
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 Nicolas CARVACHO
  Colorado
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 Ja MORANT
  Murray S
  (190-G-99)
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  Wash.
  (196-G-97)
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 7. Miller, UNCG2.8 
 8. Kostecka, Loyola,2.7 
 9. Ponds, St.John's2.6 
 10. Sharkey, Samford2.6 
Blocks Per Game
 Kylor KELLEY
  Oregon S
  (213-F/C-97)
  Avg: 3.4
 1. Kelley, Oregon S3.4 
 2. Gilbeck, W.Illinois3.4 
 3. Osaghae, FIU3.1 
 4. Clarke, Gonzaga2.9 
 5. Spellman, Sacred2.9 
 6. Osunniyi, St.B.2.7 
 7. Anei, Oklahoma S2.7 
 8. Fall, Cent F2.6 
 9. Gant, La-Lafayette2.6 
 10. Banks, Georgia T2.5 

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Auburn closes regular season with 84-80 upset of No. 5 Tennessee - Mar 10, 2019


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Chuma Okeke
Two and a half weeks ago, Bruce Pearl sat in the media room of Auburn Arena and, somewhat optimistically, pointed out that Auburn had yet to play its best basketball of the season - even at that juncture of the schedule, with six games remaining on the regular-season slate. Fortunately for Pearl, his Tigers have saved their best for last. Auburn erased an 11-point first-half deficit and rode a strong second-half effort to an 84-80 upset of No. 5 Tennessee at Auburn Arena in the teams' regular-season finale. It was the fourth straight win for Auburn, which has bounced back to play some of its best games of the season since a 27-point drubbing on the road at Kentucky last month. Since a 2-4 start to SEC play, Auburn has won nine of its last 12, including six of its last seven heading into next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. It's a stark contrast to this time last year, when Auburn limped into the postseason -- losing three of its final five games -- despite winning the SEC regular-season crown. 'I would say we are playing our best basketball,' Pearl said. 'Part of it is the quality of our opponent bringing it out. You don't play your best basketball at Georgia, at Alabama, home against Mississippi State, home against Tennessee, you're going to get beat. So, part of it was being in position to be able to do those things, and you know, guys stepping up. Going to their strengths and staying away from their weaknesses; that's the biggest thing. What do you do? Go to your strengths, stay away from your weaknesses, and I think you're seeing more and more roles defined.' Saturday was also Auburn's first win against a top-five team since 1995 -- and a victory that senior Bryce Brown ranked as one of the top three of his Auburn career, with last year's SEC-clinching finale and the 2016 court-storming upset of Kentucky the other two. 'It was a top-five win,' Pearl said. 'Again, I'm just reflecting on the program. You have to do the stuff like that if you're going to consider yourself a top-25 program.' On a day that Auburn (22-9, 11-7 SEC) honored four seniors - Brown (16 points on 4-of-9 3-pointers) and Malik Dunbar (6'6''-G), forward Horace Spencer and former walk-on Cole Blackstock (6'9''-F) - during a pregame ceremony for Senior Day, it was sophomore Chuma Okeke (6'8''-F-98) and junior Jared Harper (5'11''-PG-97) who helped the Tigers secure, by far, their best win of the season. Okeke finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four steals, while Harper had eight assists to go with 16 points - including back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 3:30 to give Auburn a six-point lead that Tennessee (27-4, 15-3) couldn't overcome. 'He's had four great games," Pearl said of Harper. "He just has had four great games. In many ways, he put the team on his back, accepting the responsibility of a quarterback to have to make plays. He's been exceptional. For us to be able to play against a really good defensive team like Tennessee and only turn it over five times, we played with some purpose. You have to. You cannot waste possessions against a team like Tennessee, as well-coached as they are. And to shoot 54 percent, 44 percent from 3, 76 percent from the line - we won the game. Tennessee didn't lose it. We won the basketball game because of the quality of our play.' After Harper's second late 3-pointer -- a somewhat controversial shot that both Harper and Tennessee coach Rick Barnes thought was tipped in by Anfernee McLemore (6'7''-F) -- the Vols answered with one of their own form Admiral Schofield (6'6''-G-97) to make it a three-point game. Following a timeout, the Tigers put the ball back in Harper's hands with 1:35 to play. 'Jared having the ball in his hands at the end of the game is probably the best thing for us offensively just because he's very smart in pick-and-roll action,' Brown said. 'He's able to beat his man at ease.' With the shot clock waning, Harper drove to the basket but had his layup blocked by Grant Williams, the expected soon-to-be SEC Player of the Year. The ball found its way to the hands of Samir Doughty (6'4''-G), and just before the shot clock expired, Doughty drained a 3-pointer near the Auburn bench that put the Tigers back up six with 1:13 to play. Harper and Williams exchanged free throws on the next two possessions, and then with 23.1 seconds to play and the Tigers up six, Anfernee McLemore was called for a Flagrant 1. That sent Williams back to the line, where he made both free throws to make it a four-point game and gave the Vols an extra possession. Williams then drained a jumper in the paint to draw the Vols within two with 23 seconds to go before Tennessee tried to extend the game with fouls. Schofield fouled out on Auburn's ensuing possession, and Harper sealed the game at the line before the Auburn forced a turnover on the other end to send Auburn Arena into a frenzy and send the Tigers into the SEC Tournament on a high note. 'Like we've been preaching on, we're just trying to get closer to playing our best basketball around this time,' Harper said. 'Around this time is when it matters the most going to the SEC Tournament to play, and going to the NCAA Tournament to play. I know that we're going to get ready for the opportunity.'
Courtesy of: al.com  



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