Wild finish, but Auburn outlasts New Mexico State

New Mexico State missed two opportunities to win the game at the death.

Nearly every season, the 12-5 is a lock for an upset. Six times since 2014. At the Wednesday open practice, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said New Mexico State would be his pick for early March Madness. Pfft. Coaches don’t fill out brackets.

Aggies guard Terrell Brown missed two free throws with a chance to win the game with a second left. Trevelin Queen air balled a three before the buzzer. In front of a majority pro-War Eagle crowd, the SEC Tournament Champions outlasted New Mexico State 78-77 on the Tigers’ fifth game in eight days.

Fluffing the Aggies appeared warranted. The WAC’s best trailed 32-29 at the break, holding Auburn without a field goal for the final five minutes. The Tigers coughed up a 13 point lead in the second half.

Free throws in the final 20 minutes kept NMSU in the game, edging the No. 5 seed 15-of-20 to 7-of-14. But when it mattered most, J’Von McCormick flashed the choke sign at Brown. He went 1-of-3 from the stripe.

“We obviously panicked, and made our fair share of mistakes which could’ve cost us the game,” Pearl said after the win. “But at the same time, we made enough really good plays against a really good team. That’s a really good 5-12 win for Auburn because that New Mexico State team is formidable. I don’t want to do it again though.”

Auburn will play the winner of the Midwest’s 4-13 matchup Kansas-Northeastern.

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