Auburn turns back Middle Tennessee
Auburn got a big game from sophomore Mustapha Heron and held on to secure one of its most impressive victories of the season, topping Middle Tennessee 76-70 on Saturday at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
Heron finished with 16 points for Auburn (9-1), which is off to its best start in a decade. Jared Harper also scored 16 and had seven assists for the TIgers.
Giddy Potts had 19 points and four steals to lead Middle Tennessee.
The third time was not the charm for the Blue Raiders (7-2), who were playing their third straight game against an SEC team after beating Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. But the Tigers, playing close to home, got off to a hot start and frustrated an old rival in the process.
The Auburn defense shut down Alabama transfer and Middle Tennessee leading scorer Nick King, who missed four of his first five shots as Auburn built a 42-25 halftime lead.
King, who came into the game averaging 24.3 points per game, was limited to 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
Auburn’s domination continued into the second half, with the Tigers building the lead to 25 points with 16 minutes to go. Middle Tennessee warmed up from 3-point range and cut the Auburn lead to 12 with nine minutes left, but Potts fouled out just seconds later.
Yet Middle Tennessee wasn’t done. The Raiders used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to eight after King drove to the basket, scored and drew a foul to make it a three-point play. But the TIgers were able to hold off their feisty Conference USA opponent and escape with a victory.