Auburn beats UConn 70-67 in overtime for 10th win
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Auburn coach Bruce Pearl says point guard Jared Harper proves there is still room for the little guy in the game of basketball.
Harper scored 22 points, including a key layup in overtime and Auburn won its fourth consecutive game, 70-67 over UConn on Friday afternoon.
Connecticut native Mustapha Heron added 15 points and Danjel Purifoy had a career-high 15 rebounds for the Tigers, who are 10-2 for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Harper, who is generously listed at 5 feet 10, also grabbed five rebounds, had five assists and four steals.
''He's special, he had no SEC offers when we committed him, because obviously of his size,'' said Pearl. ''But, you can't measure his heart. He's got a future in the game.''
Rodney Purvis scored 20 points to lead UConn (5-6) and Kentan Facey had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Auburn seemed to have the game under control until T.J. Dunans was called for an intentional foul for dragging down a driving Purvis with 80 seconds left and the Tiger's up 60-54. Purvis hit the free throws and a jumper by Facey cut the lead to 60-58.
Amida Brimah tied the game with a short baseline jumper on the Huskies next possession and Harper missed a long 3-pointer, sending the game into extra time.
''We knew there was going to be adversity in the game,'' Harper said. ''We're on the road against a great team. We knew we'd have to come together at the end to win it.''
Purifoy hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 67 in the extra frame and Harper's layup high off the glass with 22 seconds left in overtime gave Auburn a 69-67 lead.
UConn's Vance Jackson missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Heron hit a free throw for the game's final point.
Purvis missed two 3-pointers on UConn's final possession including a shot from the right baseline at the buzzer that would have tied the game.
Auburn hit just two of its first 14 shots and trailed for almost the entire first half.
But UConn failed to take advantage and never led by more than seven points. The Huskies were up by a point, 31-30, at the break.
Auburn shot just 32.9 percent from the floor, but held the Huskies to 35.4 percent.
''The majority of the game we were good defensively,'' said Facey, who also had four of the Huskies 10 blocked shots. ''It came down to a few key stops that we needed to get that we never got.''
UConn, playing with just eight scholarship players because of injury, lost starting guard Jalen Adams in the second half to a concussion. He collided with Purifoy and went hard to the floor, opening a cut above his left eye and was taken to the locker room.
His backup, Christian Vital, fouled out in overtime.
UConn: The Huskies have being playing with just eight scholarship players, thanks to several injuries, including those that knocked point guard Alterique Gilbert and forward Terrier Larrier out for the season. They lost guard Jalen Adams to a concussion in the second half. Coach Kevin Ollie said it's not clear how long Adams will be out, but he did return to the bench. There could be some help on the horizon. Highly touted prospect Hamidou Diallo has been cleared by the NCAA to enroll in college for the second semester. He was at UConn's practice on Thursday and in the stands on Friday for an official visit.
Auburn: Heron, who grew up in Connecticut, has scored in double figures in his first 12 games as a Tiger, the most since Wesley Person scored at least 10 points in 14 straight during the 1990-91 season. More than 200 friends and family made the 30 mile trip from his hometown of Waterbury to see him play.
''I came here a lot as a kid to watch UConn games and concerts and things like that, so it was exciting to be able to play here and definitely better to leave here with a W,'' he said.
The Tigers have not lost a game since suspending starters Bryce Brown and Horace Spencer after they were arrested on Dec. 14 on charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession.
''We've had about five games in 11 days,'' Pearl said. ''It's been a pretty good little period for us. I think our resume is in the top three or four in the league.''
Pearl needs two more wins to reach 500 in his 22-year coaching career. His record is currently 498-187, but just 36-42 in three seasons at Auburn.
UConn: The Huskies are off until Dec. 28 when they open their American Athletic Conference season in Hartford with an afternoon game against Houston.
Auburn: The Tigers are off until Dec. 29 when they open the SEC season at home against Georgia.
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|37.2||Min. Per Game||37.2|
|17.4||Pts. Per Game||17.4|
|5.8||Ast. Per Game||5.8|
|4.9||Reb. Per Game||4.9|
|42.4||Field Goal %||48.7|
|38.4||Three Point %||43.3|
|87.3||Free Throw %||68.6|
|Offensive rebound by Connecticut||0.0|
|Field Goals||25-76 (32.9%)||23-65 (35.4%)|
|3-Pointers||5-22 (22.7%)||4-28 (14.3%)|
|Free Throws||15-21 (71.4%)||17-25 (68.0%)|