BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When it comes to Auburn and the NCAA tournament, the Tigers know how to make an opening statement.
Johni Broome had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, and No. 9 Auburn defeated Iowa 83-75 on Thursday for his 10th straight opening-round win dating back to the mid-1980s.
The Tigers (21-12) made 11 of 12 free throws in the last four minutes to end a second-round matchup with No. 1 Houston or Northern Kentucky.
It was a decidedly Auburn-oriented crowd two hours from campus.
“They were loud and rowdy the whole game,” said Auburn guard Allen Flanigan. “It was like a home game for us”
Broome even made his ninth 3-pointer of the season to take the lead into double figures for the first time with 16 minutes to go.
The Tigers appeared poised to pull away in front of a partisan orange-blue crowd, moving up 17 with a 13-2 run midway through the second half, sparked by Tre Donaldson’s three 3-pointers off the bench.
The eighth-seeded Hawkeyes climbed back in, twice reducing it to four, but didn’t get any closer.
“We knew they had another run in them,” said Broome. “We were like, ‘Let’s stop and win this game.'”
Auburn let six players score in double figures. Wendell Green Jr. had 15 points and Donaldson, Jaylin Williams and KD Johnson all finished with 11. Allen Flanigan scored 10.
Payton Sandford scored 21 points for Iowa. Kris Murray had 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting and nine rebounds. Filip Rebraca scored 14 points.
The Hawkeyes essentially found themselves in a street game. But they refused to use that as an excuse.
“We’re used to playing in hostile environments,” said Connor McCaffery. “Obviously we would have preferred if we had the choice to be a bit more neutral, but that’s not why we lost in the first place.
“We won at Rutgers, we won at IU (Indiana) and those places are 100 times louder than here today.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, Connor’s father, echoed that sentiment after his team ended with a third straight loss.
“Every game in our league is a hostile environment so it can’t be an excuse and we don’t want to make it one,” he said. “We were right there and you have to do credit to your opponent.”
Johnson had a scare moment in the last minute of the first half.
He went up and tried to block a shot from Rebraca, who did a pump fake and sent Johnson a somersault over the Iowa player’s top.
The junior guard landed with a thud on his lower back and butt, sending the crowd into a muffled silence. Johnson lay there briefly, writhing in pain, before going to the bank for a check-up. He played in the second half.
“I was just scared,” Johnson said. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t hurting myself in any other way. That was crazy.”
Auburn: Made seven 3-pointers in the second half after a 1-of-9 start.
Iowa: Just short of fifth straight 20-win season. Missed all nine 3-point attempts in the first half and finished 7 of 27 (25.9%) from deep. A team averaging 80 points per game was held to 26 in the first half.
“Our speed and quickness was obviously a factor on the defensive end,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl.
Auburn is 1-6 all-time against Houston and is among favorites to win it all.
Broome and Auburn hold off Iowa 83-75 in the NCAA tournament originally appeared on NBCSports.com
Source : sports.yahoo.com