Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl watches from the bench alongside a referee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Middle Tennessee Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey
December 12, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Reggie Upshaw remembers how things went in last season's loss to Auburn, so he used it as fuel in Saturday's rematch.

The 6-foot-7 junior forward scored 21 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made four assists, leading Middle Tennessee to an 88-81 overtime upset of Auburn.

''It's a great feeling anytime you can beat a physical SEC team like Auburn,'' Upshaw said. ''You know you're in a good spot, especially since they got us last year in an embarrassing way.''

The Tigers (4-2) beat the Blue Raiders 64-48 last season, but Middle Tennessee (6-2) outscored Auburn 15-8 in overtime to avenge that defeat.

Giddy Potts scored 18 points and Edward Simpson added 13 off the bench for the Blue Raiders. Darnell Harris scored 13 points and hauled in nine rebounds.

Forward Perrin Buford scored 12 as five Raiders broke into double figures.

''It was one of the better college games I've been a part of in a long, long time,'' Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said. ''High scoring, two hard-playing teams, a lot of runs in the game.''

Auburn point guard Kareem Canty nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the score at 73 with 1.7 second left, sending the game into overtime.

''I knew that I was going to shoot it,'' Canty said. ''I told coach in the huddle, `No more ball screens because they're trapping me and trying to get it out of my hand. You give it to me and I'm going to make a play.'''

Canty tied a career-high with 28 points, including eight 3-pointers and seven assists.

Tigers forward Cinmeon Bowers scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds.

''My teams play best when everybody contributes and (today) there was too big a disparity between the guys that played well and even some that played as intensely as they needed to,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''So it's just hard to beat a good team on the road when we don't get more productivity from more players.''

Auburn's Tyler Harris fouled out with 2:40 left in overtime with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

After trailing by nine at halftime, Middle Tennessee opened the second half with a 21-7 run to take a 50-45 lead.

''I thought the critical part of the game was the first four minutes of the second half,'' Davis said. ''(We) kind of re-established ourselves. They went in with momentum.''

The Tigers hit only 11 of 24 foul shots for a 46 percent clip.

Auburn led for most of the early going, but Quavius Copeland's fast break layup gave MTSU its first lead at 16-15 with 11:51 left in the first half.

Pearl called a timeout after Perrin Buford's jumper increased the Blue Raiders' lead to 18-15. The Tigers closed with a 23-11 run to take a 38-29 halftime lead.

Middle Tennessee earned its first win in four tries against Auburn and improved to 1-6 against Pearl-coached teams.



Auburn: Pearl fell to 12-4 at Bridgestone Arena with three losses coming in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Tigers and Raiders will play the final game of a three-year contract next season at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala.

Middle Tennessee: The Raiders have won their last two games (2-2 overall) at Bridgestone Arena, including a 56-52 victory over Vanderbilt in 2012.


Auburn players got a game at the site of this season's SEC Tournament. ''Bruce is smart in scheduling,'' MTSU's Davis said. ''This is our home game. If he wins today, he gets a road win. It's labeled our home game even though it's kind of a neutral site. Pick up road wins against an RPI team, our RPI was a little under 100 going into today - those are good for every team in college basketball.''

Up next

Auburn hosts Mercer on Tuesday.

MTSU hosts Belmont on Thursday.

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