Auburn tops EKU, 85-64

The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team led host Auburn by as many as six points late in the first half and had a chance to take the lead midway through the second half, but the Tigers slowly pulled away down the stretch for an 85-64 victory over the Colonels on Thursday night at Auburn Arena.

EKU (1-2) overcame a hostile Southeastern Conference road environment and hung with undefeated Auburn (3-0) deep into the second half. The Colonels pulled to within two, 48-46, on a three-pointer by junior guard Dillon Avare with 14:13 remaining, and had a chance to take the lead on their next possession, but sophomore forward Nick Mayo missed a go-ahead three-point attempt. Auburn then responded with a decisive 17-4 run over the next seven minutes to put the game out of reach.

Mayo led Eastern with 20 points and four rebounds. Mayo has now scored 20 or more points in all three of EKU’s games this season.

Senior wing Jaylen Babb-Harrison contributed 14 points, while Avare came off the bench to spark the Colonels with 11 points, including three three-pointers.

After Auburn ran out to a 10-2 lead following a pair of free throws by Mustapha Heron less than two minutes in, EKU responded with a 15-2 run and grabbed a 17-12 advantage on a foul shot by Mayo with 12:43 showing on the clock.

Eastern maintained control of the game for much of the first half, and took its largest lead, 27-21, on a three-pointer by Mayo with 6:45 remaining.

Auburn used a 16-5 spurt to retake the lead, before a jumper at the buzzer by Avare sent the Colonels into the locker room at halftime down by three, 37-34.

EKU pulled to within one, 39-38, following a driving layup by Babb-Harrison with 18:28 remaining in the game, and stayed within range of the Tigers for the next five minutes.

The Colonels made it a two-point game, 50-48, when freshman Gist got a layup to go with 13:00 on the clock.

That was as close as Eastern got, though, as Auburn countered with a decisive 15-2 run and took a commanding 65-50 lead when Heron converted a free throw with 7:30 left.

Heron paced Auburn with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

EKU won the turnover battle on the night, forcing Auburn into 15 miscues.

The Colonels received 22 bench points in the game, a majority of which came from Avare and freshman DeAndre Dishman, who scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.

Thursday’s game was part of the 2016 Cancun Challenge. EKU will face Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., before flying to Cancun for a pair of games.

Allen

Allen is a die-hard football fan who has covered the NFL since 2007 and has written for numerous sites online covering football, MMA and pro wrestling. Allen is based out of Nashville and has a sales background as well as a career managing fighters in the UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce.

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