Auburn survives scare, grinds out first-round victory against Charleston

It had been an inartistic game, marred by errant shooting.

Clemson, meanwhile, was a trendy pick to be upset by No. 12 seed New Mexico State.

The defender tipped the ball, yet also contacted the shooter.

Nothing about Auburn's performance was pretty until Jared Harper drained a long 3-pointer with 1:17 to go against College of Charleston.

Both Clemson and Auburn are very similar teams. It appeared Riller was fouled but no call was made. "At the end of the day, Auburn played good defense tonight".

"One of the best guards in the SEC was guarding him and you saw what happened", teammate Mustapha Heron said.

"The thing about the Clemson matchup is we were together in Charleston (tournament), so they were preparing for us, and we were preparing for them", Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said last week.

Pundits who reviewed the replay expressed surprise a foul wasn't called.

Pearl noted that Auburn's defense, which indeed was quick and feisty, collected 21 turnovers to more than double Charleston's season average.

Auburn had more second-chance points with 10, compared to Charleston (SC)'s 4. I just know we had the right guy with the ball in his hands.

An injury that hobbled guard Joe Chealey hindered Charleston. It marked his 10th 20-point game of the season for the Cougars. In 36 minutes, he collected 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals with 3 turnovers. "Those guys do big-time games", Grant said.

The Tigers' guards will need to hit open shots on the perimeter and find a way to secure long rebounds against an Auburn team that has the size advantage. "Maybe we put too much pressure on our kids", he said. The game will be played at Viejas Arena in San Diego. Pearl, laughing, appreciated the possibilities. The Cougars had the fourth-fewest turnovers in Division I this season entering the game.

"For Auburn to get to come to San Diego, California, travel as well as we do - this is a real reward", he said.

Charleston coach Earl Grant hadn't seen a replay of the play when asked about it after the game and only offered praise for the officiating crew.


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