Maui Recap: After 3rd place finish, Auburn proves legitness

November 22, 2018 By Cameron Caldwell

November 21, 2018; Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii, USA; Maui Invitational: Auburn Tigers vs. Arizona Wildcats /Photo credit: Al Sermeno

To recap all the games from Auburn’s trip to Maui, we are going go from the most recent game and end with the opening round.

The No. 8 Auburn Tigers (5-1) ended a 2-1 trip to Maui with a victory over the (4-2) Arizona Wildcats, 73-57.

The last game of the Maui Invitational lacked a little luster since the champion (Gonzaga) had already been decided, and it sure seemed that way from the start. Both teams came out slow and did not get going until the second half of the game that decided 3rd place.

Auburn shot 54% from the field and 34.6% from three, but still managed to hold Arizona to 42.6% from the field. The Wildcats got hot in the second half and ended up 40% from behind the arc.

Not only was it an unusual night because Bill Walton was talking about anything but the game, but Jared Harper only scored 4 points on 1 of 7 shooting with zero made threes. Auburn looked for someone else to step up, and it was Bryce Brown’s turn.

Brown scored 19 points on 60% shooting and was 4 of 8 from trey land. Every time Auburn needed a bucket to get them going, Bryce delivered. Brown’s hot shooting from behind the arc led to an Auburn career record being broken on this faithful night. Former Auburn sharp shooter Wesley Person’s 262 made threes in a career stood as the program record for 24 years. Bryce Brown now has 264 made threes in his Tiger career and stands alone in that department atop the record books.

Malik Dunbar scored 15 points on an amazing 6-for-7 night. He was not only his usual disruptive defensive self, but he also provided a much needed spark on the offensive side, especially with his monster dunk.

In the semi-final game a day prior to the aforementioned matchup, Auburn and Duke squared off with the Blue Devils advancing over the Tigers, 78-72.

Auburn was down as many as 17 in the first half but cut it to 8 at the break. Austin Wiley flexed his muscles, pouring in 17 points and 9 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.

Samir Doughty and Malik Dunbar both fouled out as Auburn dealt with foul trouble all night. To prove this, Duke shot 34 free throws, while the Tigers had just 9 attempts from the charity stripe.

RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish shined as they paced Duke with 18 points apiece, while freshman sensation Zion Williamson poured in 13.

Marques Bolden for Duke had 7 blocks in the game which really made it difficult for Auburn to get buckets inside. Bolden also had 11 points and 9 rebounds as he was arguably Duke’s most important player for the game.

Jared Harper led the way for the Tigers with 22 points and 6 assists and Bryce Brown added 16 of his own.

Malik Dunbar (4) – Auburn vs. Duke – Nov. 20, 2018 Credit: Al Sermeno/Auburn Athletics

Auburn got key experience during this game and fought till the very end, gaining the respect of the rest of the country as a legitimate Final Four contender this season.

Going backwards here, the opening game of the invitational featured Auburn against Xavier, a team that won the Big East title last year and was a #1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn won 88-79 in overtime due to the late game heroics of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. Harper had 25 and Bryce had 26 as the backcourt tandem combined to shoot 9 of 22 from three-point range.

Chuma Okeke also had a nice afternoon as he finished with 13 points and 7 boards.

For a full in-depth recap of this game, and also Jared Harper’s gravity-defying dunk over the state of Hawaii, check out Power of Dixieland’s previous story on that game.

All in all, Auburn capped off a successful trip to Maui after finishing 3rd in the prestigious tournament and proved to everyone that they belong among the nation’s elite squads. The top 3 teams in the tournament at Maui were #1, #3, and #8 in the AP Poll. Auburn showed up and proved to the college basketball world that they are here to stay.

The Tigers will now come home to enjoy Thanksgiving before returning to Auburn Arena to play Saint Peter’s next Wednesday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m. cst, televised by the SEC Network.