Getting back home apparently gave Auburn the boost it needed, and the No. 16 Tigers will go for a 14th consecutive win in friendly surroundings when they host unranked Iowa State on Saturday afternoon in a Big 12/SEC Challenge matchup.
The Tigers (16-2, 4-2 SEC) rebounded from back-to-back losses on the road to Alabama and Florida by beating South Carolina 80-67 on Wednesday night for their 13th consecutive win in Auburn Arena, matching the fifth-longest home winning streak in program history.
Guards J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty came out of a slump to combine for 24 points after totaling just 30 and 37, respectively, in their previous four games, but the big story was the play of two freshmen.
Guard Devan Cambridge came off the bench to score a career-best 26 points, topping his previous high of 10 points with a 14-point first half.
“I have said that someday he can be our best player,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “I talked to him before the game [Wednesday] and was like, ‘What are you waiting for?’ This team needs him this year.”
The freshman from Nashville, Tenn., was 10 of 14 from the field overall and 6 of 9 on 3-pointers, and had five rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I felt like I couldn’t miss,” Cambridge said. “Especially after I banked that one. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m feeling it.’ “
First-year forward Isaac Okoro scored only eight points but had a collegiate-high seven assists. He combined with McCormick (five) and Doughty (four) for 16 of Auburn’s 17 assists, the most for the Tigers against an SEC foe. They had just 15 assists in the previous two games combined.
“So obviously when we have 15 assists last week and 17 assists [Wednesday], that was a big focus of trying to break out a little bit offensively,” Pearl said. “We’ll see if we can keep building on it.”
Iowa State got back to the .500 mark for the season this week after posting an 89-82 home win over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night. The Cyclones (9-9, 2-4 Big 12) broke out of a shooting slump by going 25 of 49 (51 percent) overall from the floor and canning 11 of 24 3-pointers. They were 9 of 45 from long range their previous two games combined.
Junior forward Solomon Young had a huge game off the bench with a career-high 27 points, and guards Rasir Bolton and Tyrese Hamilton were 12 of 22 from the field overall and 10 of 15 on 3-pointers on their way to 21 and 20 points, respectively.
The win was only the second for the Cyclones in their last seven games, but it gave them a much-needed lift.
“I’ve got the whole season mapped out already in my head,” Cyclones coach Steve Prohm said. “What we have to do, how we are going to do this, what do we need to do to do this. I just need to go recruiting tomorrow and watch this tape, watch the Auburn-Florida tape and watch the Auburn-Alabama tape and see some things that I can steal from those games that can help us on Saturday.”
–Field Level Media