Stevenson's 31 leads West Virginia over No. 15 Auburn
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Erik Stevenson scored a career-high 31 points and West Virginia withstood a furious late rally from No. 15 Auburn to beat the Tigers 80-77 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (13-8) have won two straight for the first time in a month and now head into the teeth of the Big 12 schedule that will determine an NCAA Tournament berth.
With Charles Barkley cheering on his alma mater from a courtside seat, Auburn (16-5) couldn't overcome another slow start. The Tigers never led in the game and have lost two straight for the first time in two years.
Stevenson had 18 first-half points on 6 of 9 shooting, including three 3-pointers that staked the Mountaineers to a 45-29 halftime lead.
Auburn's two top scorers, Wendell Green Jr., and Johni Broome were limited to a combined three points in the first half. They led a charge after the break and Auburn trimmed the deficit to 66-65 on Broome's layup with 5:16 left.
But the Tigers never went ahead. Broome's layup with 7.6 seconds left trimmed Auburn's deficit to 79-77. Stevenson then capped the scoring by making one of two free throws. Green's potential-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer was short.
Jimmy Bell Jr. added 15 points for the Mountaineers.
Jaylin Williams led Auburn with 18 points. Broome added 15 and Allen Flanigan scored 13.
Auburn: The Tigers will need to regroup with key matchups looming in the next two weeks against No. 4 Tennessee and No. 2 Alabama, wrapped around rematches against teams they've already lost to — Georgia and Texas A&M.
West Virginia: The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Mountaineers either, with seven games against ranked foes over the final 11 regular-season contests.
Auburn: Hosts Georgia on Wednesday. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 76-64 on Jan. 4.
West Virginia: Travels to No. 11 TCU on Tuesday. The Mountaineers beat the Horned Frogs 74-65 on Jan. 18.
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