EditorsNote: Adds “off,” notes Starkville is in Miss. in lead; other minor edits
J’Von McCormick scored a career-high 28 points as No. 8 Auburn shook off a shooting slump in the second half for an 80-68 victory over Mississippi State in their Southeastern Conference opener Saturday in Starkville, Miss.
McCormick also handed out four assists and posted two steals as the Tigers (13-0, 1-0) were 16 of 32 over the final 20 minutes after hitting only a third of their attempts in the first half. Auburn finished at 41.5 percent.
McCormick was joined in double figures by Samir Doughty with 15 points, Isaac Okoro with 14 points, Danjel Purifoy with 11 and Austin Wiley with 10.
All of Purifoy’s points came in the second half, including eight in a 1:17 stretch that put the Tigers up 56-46 with 7:58 remaining
Sophomore forward Reggie Perry led the Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1) with 21 points and 12 rebounds for his 16th career double-double. Guard Robert Woodard II also recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Forward Abdul Ado had 11 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots for Mississippi State. Nick Weatherspoon added 18 points.
After their cold-shooting first half, the Tigers opened up a 12-point lead less than four minutes into the second. But the Bulldogs responded with a 13-3 run by going 11 of 13 from the free-throw line to close the gap to 41-39 at the 12:28 mark.
Free throws were behind the surge. The Bulldogs shot only 33.8 percent from the field (23 of 68) but were 14 of 16 from the line in the second half to finish 19 of 23.
Both teams struggled through the first half. Each team had stretches of nearly nine minutes without field goals and were a combined 1 of 19 from 3-point range with the Tigers missing all 11 of their long-range attempts.
Auburn missed 12 consecutive shots and fell behind 18-9. But the Bulldogs were 1 of 17 over nearly a nine-minute stretch and saw their lead shrink to 20-18. The Tigers closed the half 6 of 7 from the field for a 29-24 lead.
—Field Level Media