COLLEGE STATION — Auburn has been known this season for their incredible comeback. Texas A&M made sure this time, the shoe of defeat was on the other foot.
A&M's leading scorer Josh Nebo tallied 17 of his 19 points in the second half as the Aggies survived a frenetic last-minute rally attempt to upset the 17th-ranked Tigers 78-75 on Wednesday night. Over the past five games, A&M (15-14, 9-8) has been 4-0 when playing at Auburn Arena — once defeating the Tigers (24-6, 11-6) on their senior night back in 2018.
One could call it deja vu?
"Every game that it seems like that we've won have been one- or two-possession games," A&M coach Buzz Williams said. "I guess because we've had so many reps at that, there's maybe a little bit more calmness than you would think.
"Still a lot of anxiety. We didn't execute very well. They did some really good things, but without sounding arrogant those are the games that we've been able to be in."
Savion Flagg, who had been on a tear for the Aggies offense, finally had the chance to play the hero role with seconds left. As the clock dwindled to seven, the junior would make one free throw, putting the Aggies up by four and sealing the victory for the maroon and white.
And behind the likes for a 17-point performance from Wendell Mitchell, including a late 3-pointer, A&M would not only walk away with their fifth road win but also hand the Tigers their first home loss on what was hoped to be an undefeated season.
Samir Doughty scored 25 points for Auburn, which helped eliminate most of a nine-point deficit over the final 46 seconds as A&M struggled on easy shots from the line. J'Von McCormick buried a contested 3-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to make it 77-75.
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Flagg raised his high from the free throw line, retain the lead for A&M before a final Danjel Purifoy potential tying 3 at the buzzer bounced away. Despite earning a two-round bye in the SEC tournament, it would have been a feeling to never forget for the seniors saying goodbye to the plains.
Doughty made five 3-pointers and was 10 of 11 on free throws for Auburn. Austin Wiley scored 15 points before fouling out and Isaac Okoro also added 15 more.
For the Aggies, Jay Jay Chandler came on strong for the first time in weeks. After being ejected for a technical foul Tennessee, the junior saw limited action. He'd finish the night with 14 points and two steals.
Technicals flew across the board on both sides, adding excitement near the end. Chandler would draw his second of the season, trying to flop in favor of a foul. Meanwhile, Auburn's Bruce Pearl and his assistant, son Steven, were both called for technicals protesting a foul call.
"The two technical fouls on our bench really changed the momentum of the game," Bruce Pearl said. "I was in my box. I didn't cuss. I was protesting the contact. I didn't think our bench needed to get hit twice. I didn't think our bench needed to get hit once."
The Aggies now could begin to feel a spark when speaking of tournament play. After a pair of losses to ranked Kentucky and LSU, the NIT dream looked to be halted. A win against a Top 25 Auburn roster should help them gain ground in the SEC Tournament. A win there certainly places them in the mix for a trip to the Big Apple.
Auburn, although ending their homestand on a sour note, still will have much to play for. And Pearl's staff should hold their heads high saying goodbye to the building blocks of last season's Final Four roster. Between the likes of Doughty, Wiley, McCormick and Purifoy, the Tigers won 98 games, the most in school history for a recruiting class.
The Tigers will hit the road for the regular-season finale with a date against Tennessee. The Aggies head home for their senior night on Saturday against Arkansas.