Lang's late 3-pointer lift Auburn over UAB 75-74
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) TJ Lang made a 3-pointer with 16.3 seconds left and Auburn held on to beat Alabama-Birmingham 75-74 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Horace Spencer blocked Chris Cokley's shot, and T.J. Dunans pulled in the carom with 1.8 seconds remaining to seal it for the Tigers.
''I wanted (Spencer) out there just to be able to make the play,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''They got a good look, and he obviously made a great recovery. If he's not on the floor, they score and win the game.''
Auburn was paced primarily by newcomers who were playing their first game for the Tigers, led by junior guards Kareem Canty--who scored 20 points and had three steals--and TJ Dunans, who added 17 points. Four players reached double figures, including Tyler Harris with 14 points and Cinmeon Bowers with 11.
Cokley scored 25 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Hakeem Baxter and Nick Norton added 10 points apiece, and Robert Brown had 8 points with 11 rebounds to lead UAB.
Norton made a 3-pointer and Brown scored five points to give the Blazers their only lead of the game, 74-72 with 36 seconds to go before Lang scored the game-winner.
UAB, which advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament after upsetting 3-seed Iowa State, couldn't find an open shot and was forced to settle for a wild runner.
The Tigers raced out to an early lead--stretching its lead to 14 late in the first half. But aside from a six-second stretch early in the second half when UAB evened the score, they then would pull within two points at the 6:23 mark, and again with a minute left to play, despite Cokley's 25 points.
Auburn's bench, which was depleted because three players were unable to play, scored only eight points, compared to UAB's 40. The Blazers also outscored the Tigers in the paint, putting up 48 to the host's eight.
The difference came at the free-throw line, where Auburn had 20 more shots. The Tigers sank 24 of 31, compared to 8 of 11 for the Blazers.
Pearl kept Canty and Lang in the game down the stretch despite Lang picking up his fourth foul with 9:24 left and Auburn up 62-56. UAB went on an 18-10 run to take the lead before Lang's game-winner.
Auburn: The Tigers started three newcomers in Friday's game, the first since the 2005 season opener. Cokley scored a career-high 25 points, eclipsing his previous high of 20 set against Middle Tennessee State on February 28, 2015.
UP NEXT: Auburn hosts Colorado on Tuesday.
UAB hosts Alabama State on Monday.