J’Von McCormick wasn’t going to let Auburn lose Saturday. He made three consecutive 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation to bring the Tigers back, and his floater with 0:00.1 left in overtime proved to be the game-winner against LSU.
“I felt like it came off my hands pretty good,” McCormick said. “I work on those shots all the time so it was just nothing to me.”
“He stepped up,” teammate Samir Doughty said. “That’s what we expected. We wanted the ball in his hands. Coach [Bruce Pearl] wanted the ball in his hands, and he just delivered. He saved me at the end. I had that turnover late in overtime, and he scored a basket to win a game.”
McCormick finished with 23 points, nine assists and a career-high nine rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 91-90 victory in front of a sold-out crowd in Auburn Arena.
It was yet another come-from-behind win for Auburn (21-2, 8-2), who moves into first place in the SEC standings following its sixth-consecutive victory.
“If you’re going to win a game like that, against a team like that, you have to have special,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We had a lot of special. It’s one of the better comebacks of my career because of what was at stake and just how much we were down to such a good team in a championship-type game.”
It was the third time in the last four games the Tigers have erased a double-digit lead in the second half. They came back from 19 down against Ole Miss, 11 down against Arkansas, and they were down by as many as 15 to LSU in the second half Saturday. All three of those games were decided in overtime where Auburn is now a perfect 4-0 on the season and 9-2 all-time under Pearl.
In Saturday’s game, it was 71-63 with just over a minute left when McCormick caught fire, drilling three straight 3s in a span of 20 seconds to cut the LSU lead to two. After finally missing one to potentially put Auburn ahead, McCormick got a steal and passed it ahead to Doughty who scored a layup in transition that tied the score at 74 with 19 seconds left.
LSU missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
After LSU scored first to open the extra period, Auburn responded with a 9-0 run. Doughty knocked down a 3 from the top of the key. Freshman Devan Cambridge followed with another 3, and then Doughty connected again from almost the same spot to put the Tigers up 83-76.
Doughty led Auburn with 26 points and made 5 of 11 shots from beyond the arc. It was the senior’s sixth-straight game in double figures and third-straight game with 20 or more points.
The 3 from Cambridge was one of a career-high seven 3-pointers made by the freshman. He saw added minutes with starter Danjel Purifoy out (flu), and he took full advantage with 21 points off the bench. He was 7 of 11 from the field and 7 of 10 from deep.
“Devan was huge,” Pearl said. “When he’s going, he’s got no fear. He needs to be able to find a way – and he will, he’s still young – to play more consistently. Effort and energy on the defensive end and do other things. But he gives us another dimension, another weapon.”
Cambridge, Doughty and McCormick combined for 17 of Auburn’s season-high 18 3-pointers in Saturday’s win. It was the most 3s Auburn has ever made in an SEC game and was tied for the second-most in a game in program history. After going just 5 of 18 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Tigers knocked down 13 of its 26 3-point attempts in the second half and overtime.
“It’s just fun to play (that way),” McCormick said. “Every night it’s going to be a different guy. Tonight, it was me, Devan and Samir. It could be Jamal [Johnson] or Anfernee [McLemore]. It just shows that if we beat our guy and they step up, we can find the open man and they’re going to knock down the shot.”
It was another dominant effort inside from Austin Wiley, who recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Nine of Wiley’s 13 rebounds came in the second half and overtime where Auburn finished with a 31-13 edge on the boards. For the game, it was 46-36 in favor of Auburn.