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Auburn loses heartbreaker at Georgia

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ATHENS, Ga. – Jared Harper’s potential game-winning 3-pointer hit off the front rim as Georgia held on to defeat Auburn 79-78 in Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday.

The Tigers fought back from a six-point deficit with 1:08 to play to score the game’s final five points to give it a shot at the road win.

Danjel Purfoy’s 3 cut the Georgia lead in half, 79-76 with 1:07 to go. The Tigers forced a J.J. Frazier air ball, Purifoy rebounded, was fouled and sank a pair of free throws to close to within one with 37 seconds left.

Auburn forced another Georgia turnover with Purifoy’s steal, and called time out in front of its bench with 7.5 seconds left. Harper’s 3 from beyond the right of the top of the key fell just short.

“No apologies tonight,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “We played a very good game and came up just short.”

The Tigers featured balanced scoring with six in double figures, led by Bryce Brown’s 15 points on 5-of-7 treys, Mustapha Heron’s 13 points and nine rebounds and Purifoy’s 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Austin Wiley, T.J. Dunans and T.J. Lang had 10 points each while Wiley had eight rebounds and four blocks.

Auburn jumped out to a 9-4 lead with six points from Wiley, stretched it to 17-6 after Lang’s second 3-pointer with 12:25 left. Lang added an old-fashioned 3-point play after a steal to put the Tigers up 25-12, and then Brown’s second trey made it 28-12 with 7:44.

Four-straight turnovers allowed the Bulldogs to score 12 straight points to draw within 28-24. The Tigers closed with a 9-6 run with Brown’s third trey to lead 37-30 at the half behind Lang’s SEC season-high 10 points.

Georgia tied it at 40 and again at 43 with its third trey in five attempts to open the second half as Heron made two-straight for the Tigers. The Bulldogs scored seven straight to take its first lead of the game, 56-52, with 12:08 left.

Georgia made its first six 3-point attempts in the second half and 7-of-8 to lead 69-65 with 7:20 to go. Dunans’ driving layup put the Tigers back in front, 73-71, with 3:51 remaining.

Frazier scored a game-high 31 points on 5-of-9 treys with six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Auburn fell to 17-13 overall, 6-11 in the SEC while Georgia improved to 18-12, 9-8.

The Tigers outshot the Bulldogs 44.3 percent to 42.2 percent from the floor, 12-of-27 (.444) to 10-of-22 (.455) from 3-point range, but Georgia made 15 free throws to Auburn’s 12 as both teams attempted 16.

Georgia edged Auburn 39-36 on the boards, but had a 16-8 advantage in second chance points.

Auburn returns home for Senior Day for Devin Waddell, T.J. Dunans, Ronnie Johnson and LaRon Smith against Missouri on Saturday at 2:30 pm CT on the SEC Network.

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