Auburn’s Broome sweeps aside Iowa in NCAA opener
2 hours ago
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With Auburn fans bringing a taste of the Jungle to Legacy Arena, the ninth-seeded Tigers exploded for 52 points in the second half and held off Iowa 83-75 Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Johni Broome and Allen Flanigan produced double-doubles to lead six Tigers in double figures. Auburn built a 17-point lead with 10:50 to play before the Hawkeyes closed the gap down the stretch.
“Johni had a tough matchup and he won his matchup, which was really important,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who improved to 7-3 in NCAA Tournament games at Auburn, tying Sonny Smith for most tournament wins in program history. “I’m really happy for Allen, he’s playing his best basketball right now on the big stage.”
Broome led the Tigers with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Flanigan added 10 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high four assists.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Broome said. “We relied on each other to box out, rebound and contest shots, and that’s what we did to finish the game.”
Wendell Green Jr. scored 10 points in the final four and a half minutes to hold off the Hawkeyes. He finished with 15 points. Jaylin Williams, Tre Donaldson and K.D. Johnson each added 11 points.
After a low-scoring first half, the Tigers came out firing in the second half, scoring 18 of their first 20 points from behind the 3-point line while building a 12-point lead.
Williams hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the half. After the Hawkeyes answered with a 3, Broome hit a 3, then Johnson hit a pair of open 3s in transition, and Donaldson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Tigers on top 51-39.
“He’s got a toughness about him, a swag, a confidence,” Pearl said of Donaldson. “He did not look like a freshman at all. It’s very important that your bench plays well in postseason. K.D. has given us such a spark coming off the bench.”
When Iowa called timeout, chants of “Let’s Go Auburn!” cascaded through the arena.
“They came in deep and heavy,” Flanigan said of the Auburn fan presence. “They showed out, loud and rowdy the whole game. It felt like a home game for us.”
Flangian’s coast-to-coast layup put Auburn ahead 58-41 before the Hawkeyes mounted a swift comeback, pulling within four points with five minutes to play after a 7-0 run.
“We knew they’d come back,” Pearl said. “It got a little tight. We got stops, we got rebounds and 50-50 balls.”
That’s when Green went to work, scoring twice on drives and going 6-for-6 from the line to close out the victory.
“Wendell was a great floor general,” Pearl said. “I thought our bench played really well. Our speed and quickness were a factor defensively.”
Auburn’s point guards played a massive role in the second half, with Donaldson and Green combining for 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line with four assists and one turnover.
Auburn scored nine answered points to take a 21-12 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Johnson started the run with a tough shot in the lane. After back-to-back buckets by Broome, Chris Moore made a steal and passed to Green for a 3-pointer, the only 3 for either team in the half.
After a 6-0 Iowa run, Green stole the ball and lobbed to Dylan Cardwell for an alley-oop slam that ignited the pro-Auburn crowd.
The Tigers led 31-26 at halftime on the strength of eight points and six rebounds from Broome, and six points and seven rebounds from Flanigan.
“To hold them to 26 in the half was a great effort,” Pearl said.
By winning its first-round game for the 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament, Auburn advances to Saturday’s second round and will play the winner of top-seeded Houston vs. Northern Kentucky.
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