AUBURN, Ala. — Allen Flanigan scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Auburn pulled away late to beat Mississippi State 78-71 on Saturday and give Bruce Pearl his 600th coaching victory in the Tigers’ season finale.
With no seniors and just two upperclassmen on the roster, Auburn didn’t stage a Senior Day, and the Tigers (13-14, 7-11 Southeastern Conference) announced in November that they were self-imposing a postseason ban as a result of a long-running NCAA investigation. But they found reason to celebrate after the win over the Bulldogs as Pearl did a little dance at center court, surrounded by his players.
Pearl is the 63rd coach in Division I history and the 21st active coach to reach 600 wins. Pearl’s record over 26 years of coaching is 600-237. This is his seventh season at Auburn.
The lead went back and forth in the second half until Auburn grabbed the lead for good on a bucket by Jaylin Williams. The lead was seven after a Williams dunk with 47 seconds left. After a MSU basket, Auburn sank four straight free throws for a comfortable margin.
Williams scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. Jamal Johnson scored 14 points with seven assists and JT Thor added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Auburn played its fourth straight game without freshman sensation Sharife Cooper, who sat out again with a sprained ankle. Cooper led the Tigers this season with a 20.2 points per game average in the 12 games he played.
Mississippi State (14-13, 8-10) finished the first half on a 10-2 run to lead 34-32 behind 13 points from Tolu Smith.
Auburn threw up 23 3-point attempts in the half and made six. The Tigers turned it around in the second half when they were 5 of 10 from the arc and shot 57% overall.
Smith finished with 20 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs, who move on to conference tournament. D.J. Stewart Jr. added 19 points and Iverson Molinar 17.
This game was originally supposed to be played on Feb. 16 but was postponed because of weather conditions.
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