Jaylin Williams broke a 91-all tie with 1:10 left in overtime with a second-chance layup and Auburn's free throws in the final seconds sealed the Tigers' hard-fought 96-91 win over St. Joseph's Thursday night at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Florida.
Williams led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Auburn took advantage of its size advantage, with 21 offensive rebounds and 56 for the game to 39 for the Hawks.
Auburn did not have highly touted freshman point guard Sharife Cooper for the game. Cooper's initial eligibility review is ongoing, and a resolution did not come in time for Cooper to travel with the team to Florida.
The Tigers had already self-imposed a one-year postseason ban for this season, stemming from the FBI's investigation into college basketball that led to former assistant coach Chuck Person being arrested in 2017.
The Tigers took a 62-51 lead with 13:34 to play in the second half, the result of a missed shot, offensive rebound and kick out to Justin Powell for a 3-pointer.
Yet, the Hawks came back, cutting the lead to 68-66 with 8:45 to go on Taylor Funk's dunk after an offensive foul at the other end.
Two Jack Forrest free throws tied the game at 75 with 3:55 left, then the Hawks took an 81-80 lead, their first of the half, on Funk's tip-in with 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Funk led all scorers with 28 points.
Funk made a layup off a steal to make it 83-80 before Auburn tied it at 84 on Williams' cutting dunk with 13 seconds to go in regulation. St. Joe's Ryan Daly missed a 3 just before the end of regulation.
Auburn had used runs of eight and nine points to go up by as many as 11 in the first half, but St. Joseph's stormed back behind Funk's hot shooting. He hit three 3-pointers in less than two minutes helped cut the Tigers' lead to one, and scored 13 of his points in the opening 20 minutes.
Auburn ended the half ahead 44-36, with 10 points in the half from guard Allen Flanigan.
--Field Level Media