EditorsNote: minor edits
TJ Starks scored 23 points, and Duane Wilson hit a go-ahead free throw with 3.5 seconds to play as Texas A&M handed No. 8 Auburn its first home loss 81-80 Wednesday in a Southeastern Conference thriller at Auburn (Ala.) Arena.
The Aggies led by 17 early in the second half but found themselves in a nip-and-tuck battle down the stretch.
Auburn’s Horace Spencer tied the game at 80 with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left.
On the Aggies’ ensuing possession, Wilson took the ball coast-to-coast, drew a blocking foul on a drive and knocked down the winning free throw. Texas A&M has won three in a row.
Mustapha Heron got a good look at a deep 3-pointer but came up just short as time expired, snapping Auburn’s five-game winning streak. Heron finished with a game-high 28 points for the Tigers (21-3, 9-2 SEC), who are ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.
Starks and the Aggies (16-8, 5-6 SEC) started hot. Texas A&M shot 63.3 percent from the floor, connecting on 7 of 11 3-point attempts in the first half. Starks had 16 of his points in the first half, and the Aggies led 46-36 at intermission.
Texas A&M opened the second half with a 7-0 run, and the lead quickly ballooned to 17.
Auburn rallied behind Heron, who made six consecutive free throws during a two-minute stretch that trimmed the A&M lead to 65-60 with 10 minutes to go.
Heron kept getting to the rim for baskets, and Jared Harper added a layup that capped a 9-0 Auburn run and gave the Tigers a 69-67 lead with 7:28 left.
Harper finished with 13 points and eight assists.
Robert Williams had 16 points and seven rebounds, and Tyler Davis finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies.
Texas A&M returns home to host No. 24 Kentucky on Saturday. Auburn will look to bounce back when it travels to Georgia on Saturday.
--Field Level Media