OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Auburn coach Bruce Pearl didn't like what he saw on the scoreboard late in the first half.
His No. 16 Tigers were trailing by 13 points against Mississippi — but Pearl really liked what he saw on the faces of his players.
“They never panicked, especially when it looked like Ole Miss might run us out of the building early,” Pearl said Auburn dominated the second half to rally for a 91-77 win Saturday night.
“Our players had a business look on their faces," Pearl said. "And I really liked what I saw on the court in the second half.”
Jaylin Williams scored 16 points, and Johni Broome and Chad Baker-Mazara each scored 15 points, with 27 of those 30 combined points coming in the second half. Denver Jones and K.D. Johnson scored 11 points each, and Tre Donaldson added 10 for the Tigers (18-4, 7-2 SEC).
“Maybe our best win of the year on the road against an incredible fan base,” Pearl said. “If you’re going to win titles, you’ve got to win a road game that other teams can’t win. We did that tonight.”
Allen Flanigan scored 20 points, Matthew Murrell had 18 and Jaemyn Brakefield 15 for Ole Miss (18-4, 5-4).
Auburn trailed 42-29 late in the first half and were within nine at halftime before storming past Ole Miss in the second half. The Tigers outscored the Rebels 56-33 and shot 22 of 30 from the field.
Donaldson gave Auburn its first lead at 62-60 on a jumper with 10:56 remaining and Ole Miss did not seriously challenge in the final five minutes.
The Rebels shot 45% from the field overall — 28 of 62 — and struggled in the second half, shooting only 11 of 29.
“The question for us is how we respond to this. A win would’ve been nice, but give Auburn all the credit,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said. “The tougher, better conditioned team won the second half.”
Auburn decisively won the rebounding battle 42-26, led by Baker-Mazara and Broome with nine apiece. Auburn got 36 points from its reserves, while Ole Miss managed only eight.
Auburn: It was arguably the most important road win of the season, especially coming off consecutive road losses. The win kept Auburn only one game off the SEC lead, with league leader Alabama coming to Auburn next week.
Ole Miss was unbeaten at home and provided a strong effort in front of a raucous crowd, but shooting 15 of 20 from the field to open the second half was the difference.
Ole Miss: Falling to 18-4 overall, the Rebels remain a solid candidate for an NCAA Tournament berth, but clearly have not played well in two losses against Auburn. This was much closer than a 23-point loss at Auburn two weeks ago. The good news is Ole Miss will not face Auburn again unless both teams advance to a high-stakes postseason game in March.
After dropping eight spots to No. 16 last week, consecutive wins should improve Auburn’s status among the AP Top 25 poll voters. ... Ole Miss has been in and out of the AP Top 25 poll since January, but the loss figures to keep them as an unranked team receiving votes.
Auburn: Hosts three of the next four games, beginning with No. 24 Alabama on Wednesday.
Mississippi: Visits South Carolina on Tuesday.
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