AUBURN, Ala. (AP) After overcoming a 13-point deficit to Xavier in the second half, Auburn watched two different leads evaporate with just seconds left on the clock.
But Bruce Pearl’s Tigers were not going to be denied Saturday night.
KT Harrell scored 24 points as Auburn rallied multiple times at home to knock off Xavier 89-88 in double overtime.
Harrell hit 7 of 12 shots after halftime, including a 3-pointer with 2:24 left in regulation to complete the comeback. The senior guard scored eight points in the overtime periods.
”This one feels amazing,” Harrell said. ”We put in a lot of work in. Sometimes we don’t get the results we want, and it kind of frustrates you. But to go out and get that W – especially against a really good team – it feels really good.”
Malcolm Canada hit two free throws with 14 seconds left in the second overtime to give Auburn (5-5) a one-point lead.
The Tigers had struggled from the free-throw line all game, but Canada said he was eager to attempt the go-ahead shots.
”I live for it,” Canada said. ”That’s the stuff you dream about as a kid. I was hoping that I got fouled so I could go shoot those free throws.”
Remy Abell led the Musketeers (8-3) with 18 points, but missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Cinmeon Bowers added 17 points for the Tigers, and Canada scored 15.
”I’m so proud of them,” Pearl said. ”That would’ve been a hard one not to get because we had it, gave it away a little bit by not taking care of the ball in regulation, but we’ve got some guys who are battling.”
The game was tied at 17 with 7:30 left in the first half, but the Musketeers jumped out to a double-digit lead by hitting 8 of 10 shots before the break.
Xavier hit game-tying shots late in regulation and the first overtime period to extend the game against Auburn, which shot 61 percent in the second half.
Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds scored 16 points apiece for the Musketeers, and Matt Stainbrook recorded 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Stainbrook hit two free throws to force a second overtime period. The Xavier center and point guard Dee Davis both fouled out for Xavier in the loss.
”I thought the momentum completely changed when our senior point guard went out of the game,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. ”Auburn gained confidence in the second half, and because of our poor start and not having our floor general out there for most of the second half, we ended up on the short end of the stick.”
Auburn: All five of the Tigers’ wins this season have come when at least four players score in double figures. The win was Auburn’s first game to go into overtime since the 2012-13 season.
Xavier: Trevon Bluiett, the Big East’s highest-scoring freshman, was held to just 3 of 11 from the field in the Musketeers’ loss, including 2-for-6 from 3-point range. Auburn was Xavier’s third SEC opponent in four games. The Musketeers defeated Alabama 97-84 and Missouri 74-58.
ON THE RISE
Auburn forward Trayvon Reed had five blocks off the bench in his third game as a Tiger. The 7-foot-2 freshman was cleared to join the team last Friday.
Xavier was without guard J.P. Macura on Saturday night due to sickness. Macura averages 7.3 points per game and scored 13 against Alabama.
Xavier hosts Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday, Dec. 28.
Auburn hosts Texas Southern on Tuesday.