AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Not enough words in the dictionary can describe the thriller that took place inside Auburn Arena between the No. 11 Auburn Tigers and No. 18 LSU Tigers, but to put it simply: Auburn refuses to lose at home. For the third time in four games, the Auburn Tigers forced a game into overtime and won, including Saturday’s 91-90 win after J’Von McCromick’s floater bounced around the rim and in with 0.1 to play.
McCormick came up huge down the stretch and in overtime, scoring nine points in 20 seconds to make it a two-point game with 47 seconds remaining. He’d finish with 23 big points.
Against Auburn no lead is safe. They erased a 19-point deficit against Ole Miss to win in double-overtime last week, erased an 11-point deficit with 5:59 to play against Arkansas to win in overtime Tuesday, and on Saturday, erased a 15-point lead to force overtime and win. They simply fear no deficit too large.
After a struggling first half in which they only hit 30 percent of their shots, the Auburn Tigers shot 41.2 percent in the second half, and 42.9 percent from three to outscore the LSU Tigers 44-32 to force OT.
After a McCormick three made it 74-72, still, in favor of LSU, LSU missed a free throw in the one-and-one, McCormick misfired on a three before Auburn forced LSU’s most cool-under-pressure player in Skylar Mays into a turnover that led to a Samir Doughty game-tying layup with 19 seconds remaining. Mays would attempt a game-winning three but would miss, sending the game to overtime - The Jungle was alive.
In overtime, Auburn shot 6-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from three. They opened the period with back-to-back-to-back-to-back threes to open an 86-79 lead. First Doughty hit one, and then Devan Cambridge hit one from the corner, and then Doughty hit another one, and then Cambridge hit another one from the corner like hot potato. Doughty finished with a team-high 26 points, Cambridge finished with 21 off the bench.
Auburn hit a season-high 18 three-pointers in Saturday’s game. 13 came in the second half and overtime.
Undeterred, though, LSU would fight back and, with a little help from missed free throws from Auburn, would find a way to take a 90-89 lead with nine seconds remaining after Auburn turned it over on an inbounds pass, leading to a slam from Emmitt Williams.
But then, McCormick happened. Under full-court pressure, McCormick just dribbled down the court just past the free-throw line and unleashed a perfect floater with the perfect amount of height to get over the outstretched arm of the LSU defender, falling in to preserve Auburn’s perfect, now 13-0 record at home.
Not only did McCormick’s floater keep Auburn undefeated at home, and not only did it extend Auburn’s win streak to six games, and not only did it ensure another second-half collapse from LSU this week, and not only did it send Auburn Arena into a frenzy, and not only did it completely summarize Auburn basketball the last two weeks, and not only did it nullify a brilliant 30-point performance by LSU’s Mays but it also - and this is the hugest point of them all - shifts Auburn into first place in the SEC standings now at 8-2 in conference play. The same conference record as LSU. And the Auburn Tigers did it without Danjel Purifoy, one of their best players.
LSU falls to 17-6 overall. Auburn improves to 21-2.
Auburn now welcomes rival Alabama to Auburn Arena Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tip. Alabama handed Auburn its first loss of the season nearly a month ago. The Tigers look for revenge.