Following Brown and Harper's big shots late, Harper came up big again contesting a three-point attempt by Grant Riller that came up short with under 30 seconds left that would have tied the game. But this scrappy match, the third on the day in the NCAA Tournament's sub-regional in San Diego, held the attention of a near-capacity crowd at San Diego State's Viejas Arena. It appeared Riller was fouled but no call was made. Three players scored in double figures for Auburn at Florida, at Arkansas and against Alabama in the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.
That Auburn plays better when multiple players contribute in the scoring column is no secret.
Both teams struggled shooting threes Friday night. Brown hit 3-of-4 from long range and scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
"This is special and I think our guys appreciate it", Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.
Brown, the Tigers second-leading scorer coming in with 16.2 points per game, finished the first half with zero points on 0-6 shooting, missing all five shots he took from downtown. Malik Dunbar was a guy that had a lot to learn to be able to contribute at the highest level of Division I college basketball, but he got a lot of physical ability and he's got a great heart and great spirit.
Brantley played 38 minutes, but said that fatigue was not a factor in such an important game.
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The Cougars scored the first four points of the game before trailing the remainder of the second half until Grant Riller tied it up at 25 going into the break.
Nervousness plagued Auburn (26-7) in the estimation of Pearl, who attributed the team's surprisingly poor free-throw shooting - 15 of 32 - to excessive pressure of representing the Southeastern Conference. You have to understand that after Sunday, there are only 16 teams left, and Auburn has a chance to be one of them. "Maybe we put too much pressure on our kids", he said.
Auburn survives to play the victor of Clemson vs.
- Bernie Wilson reporting in San Diego. "That's our game. We've done it all year long and we made enough tonight to win the game". The Cougars are now 1-5 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
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.
Charleston (26-8) reached the NCAAs for the first time since 1999.