Courtesy of Greg Ostendorf, AU Athletics
It was a back-and-forth game all night, but Auburn made the plays down the stretch to take down Memphis and secure a 74-71 victory at Holiday Hoopsgiving in Atlanta.
“It’s a good win for us,” said Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl. “Memphis is an NCAA Tournament team. But we had a couple guys really step up. It was a good team victory. We’ve got a long way to go to become a good basketball team, but this was a good win.”
Freshman Justin Powell picked up where he left off against South Alabama the last time out, scoring the first 11 points for Auburn on Saturday before the first media timeout. Powell knocked down a 3 on the opening possession. He then drained a floater, made a tough layup inside plus the foul and finished the sequence with another 3 to make it 11-8.
But the biggest shot of the night from Powell came in the closing minutes when he connected on his fourth triple to put the Tigers up 67-63. He finished with a game-high 26 points, matching his career high set against South Alabama, and led the team with eight rebounds.
“Justin, he brings his ‘A’ game every night,” said teammate Allen Flanigan. “He’s an incredible shooter, but he’s also a person that can handle the ball. When he’s at the 1, we just play through him. He gets downhill, creates for other guys, and we create for him also and get him open shots.”
Flanigan was second on the team with 16 points and proved clutch late, scoring 7 of the team’s final 13 points over the last five minutes. The sophomore’s turnaround fadeaway jumper with 3:45 left put the Tigers in front, 64-63. They never trailed again.
Flanigan also drew a charge with just over a minute to go to take away a Memphis bucket. It was one of 18 turnovers forced by Auburn on the night.
Though Flanigan and Powell were Auburn’s only two players in double figures, Jaylin Williams was instrumental in the victory as well as he dished out a career-high eight assists to lead the Tigers while turning it over just once. The sophomore forward also scored six points, pulled down three rebounds and blocked two shots.
With the win, Auburn improves to 3-2 on the season and 2-0 all-time against Memphis. The Tigers returned home Tuesday to face Texas Southern in Auburn Arena, but results were not available at press.