Auburn’s 19-game winning streak ends vs Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Walker Kessler grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and Auburn had a chance to win in regulation but Arkansas made 11 free throws in overtime to beat the top-ranked Tigers 80-76 Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena, ending Auburn’s 19-game win streak.
“I thought we played really well defensively,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Walker Kessler was amazing. What a warrior. Jabari made some big shots and Wendell was a tough cover. We need more balance.”
Dylan Cardwell’s putback gave Auburn a 70-69 lead midway through overtime but the Razorbacks scored the next seven points, all from the free-throw line, before Jabari Smith’s 3-pointer with 28.2 seconds remaining pulled Auburn within three points at 76-73.
After Arkansas hit a pair of free throws, Smith hit another 3 with 18 seconds left to make it a two-point game at 78-76. Smith led the Tigers with 20 points while adding nine rebounds.
The Razorbacks hit one of two free throws but got an offensive rebound that negated an opportunity for a possible game-tying 3-point attempt by Auburn in the closing seconds of OT.
Free throws were pivotal in overtime with Arkansas making 11 of 14 while the Tigers were 0-for-3. The Tigers were 8-for-17 from the line in the game while the Razorbacks hit 26 of 32, an 81.3 percent clip.
Wendell Green Jr. scored Auburn’s last nine points in regulation and had a chance to win it in the final seconds but his 30-footer caromed off the rim.
“My teammates trust me with the ball in my hands at the end of the game,” Green said. “Just ended up missing. At 22-2, we feel great about where we’re at. We know what we have to work on to get better. Stay together and move forward to the next game.”
Green scored 19 points and added five assists and four rebounds in 38 minutes. Auburn played a second straight game without starting point guard Zep Jasper
“Zep is the best on-ball defender in the league and he doesn’t turn it over,” Pearl said. “We turned it over 19 times.”
Kessler had a monster game with 16 points and seven blocks to go with his 19 boards. Auburn outrebounded Arkansas 60-42. Devan Cambridge added nine rebounds.
Trailing by 12 with 4:13 remaining in the first half, the Tigers closed the half on a 10-1 run, capped by Green’s second-chance jumper just before the buzzer.
The Tigers held the Razorbacks without a field goal over the final 8 minutes and 29 seconds of the half while outrebounding Arkansas 31-15.
Auburn grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the half to none for Arkansas, leading to a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points. Kessler led Auburn in the half with seven points and nine rebounds.
The Tigers (22-2, 10-1) return to Auburn Arena Saturday at 11 a.m. CT vs. Texas A&M on ESPN in the annual AUTLIVE cancer game.
ESPN College GameDay will broadcast from Auburn Arena for the second time in program history, beginning at 10 a.m. CT.
Auburn remains in first place in the SEC by one game over Kentucky with seven conference games remaining.
“A lot of good teams in our league,” Pearl said. “We know we don’t have much margin for error. We know the position we’re in. We’ve worked really hard to put ourselves in this position.”