BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Coming into the Legends Classic, Auburn had scored 207 points in its last two games. On Monday night, it was the defense that propelled the 18th-ranked Tigers to a 84-59 win over New Mexico in the tournament's second semifinal game.
Auburn forced a season-high 24 turnovers and took control in the first half with a 16-0 run where it held the Lobos scoreless for over seven minutes.
"I thought we physically were dominant, and I thought our defense carried the day," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "We wore them down a little bit with our pressure and our effort and energy. The pace of that game early was something else."
New Mexico has a good club, a talented club. They do good stuff, and they're going to have a really good year in their league. That's a good win for our team."
Leading 35-24 at halftime, the Tigers continued to be relentless on the defensive end as they started the second half on a 21-5 run to push the lead to 27. It was the fewest points scored this season by a New Mexico team that was averaging 85.5 points per game coming in.
Offensively, senior Samir Doughty continued to have the hot hand for Auburn as he finished with a game-high 19 points. Doughty, who made 5 of his 9 attempts from long range, has now scored 19 or more points in each of his last three games and is leading the Tigers with 18.8 points per game.
Doughty was one of four Auburn players to score in double figures Monday night.
Joining him was big man Austin Wiley, who was dominant inside with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. It was the second-straight double-double for Wiley, who made 6 of his 8 shots from the field including multiple dunks in the second half.
Freshman Isaac Okoro finished with 12 points and has now scored 10 or more points in all six games he's played in with the Tigers this season. Senior Anfernee McLemore chipped in 10 points and made two 3s during that 16-0 stretch in the first half.
Point guard J'Von McCormick played a key role, especially in the first half, as he stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
With the win, Auburn will advance to play in the championship game against Richmond on Tuesday night. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.