- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Austin Wiley made quite a splashy debut in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.

The Tigers’ freshman had his biggest game since enrolling at midseason Saturday, collecting 19 points and nine rebounds in an 84-64 victory over the Crimson Tide. The son of former Auburn stars Vickie Orr and Aubrey Wiley, he knew well what a big deal the game is in this state.

“I really just wanted to beat them, for real, because I grew up in the rivalry and it was a hyped game,” Austin Wiley said. “I just wanted to continue the legacy and beat Alabama.”

Wiley and fellow freshman Mustapha Heron combined for 29 points in the second half for Auburn (13-6, 3-4 Southeastern Conference). Heron made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points in a 5-1/2-minute stretch when the Tigers started to pull away in a game that was tied at halftime.

Auburn scored 12 straight points heading into the final 2 minutes. Ronnie Johnson scored 17 points in 20 minutes and Heron made all three long-range attempts and finished with 15 points.

Wiley scored 15 second-half points.

“This is a bragging right thing for him and his Dad and Mom,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “His presence was enormous.”

Braxton Key led Alabama (11-7, 4-2) with 18 points and Riley Norris added 10. Tide coach Avery Johnson thought his team’s second-half performance was out of character. Auburn outscored Alabama 54-34 after halftime.

“Today’s game was a game unlike one that we’ve had recently,” Avery Johnson said. “Recently, especially in SEC play, even if things are tied or we’re down in the first half or up, we tend to be the type of team that has the mental and physical stamina and the team that makes better decision in the second half to give ourselves a chance to win. That didn’t happen today.

“That was probably one of the worst defensive halves that I’ve seen.”

Wiley joined the team five weeks earlier after graduating from Calusa Prep in Miami. His previous high scoring output for Auburn was 11 points.

Wiley went to the free throw line 18 times, making 11 foul shots. He grabbed two straight offensive rebounds before drawing a foul and making 1 of 2 free throws with 6:57 left for a 61-54 lead. Students chanted his name before he went to the line.

Wiley wasn’t sure his parents would give him too high a grade for his performance after scoring four points in the first half.

“I didn’t start off too good, so I’ve got to hear what they say after the game,” he said. “I think I was overhyped. Just big-eyed out there, but I calmed myself down and my teammates did a good job calming me down, saying I’m good.”

Auburn tied the game 30-30 at halftime on Johnson’s drive with 41 seconds left and didn’t take their first lead until early in the second half.

Then the Tigers started finding Wiley near the basket - or Heron on the perimeter.

“That was their plan to get the ball into Wiley, especially with the job that we were doing on (Jared) Harper and (Bryce) Brown and Mustapha in the first half,” Avery Johnson said.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: Has won six of the last eight and had been seeking its first opening three-game SEC road win streak since starting the 1987 league season 3-0. …Fell to 3-4 in Auburn Arena.

Auburn: Rebounded from a 1-4 stretch to win a second straight game. …Made 8 of 13 3-pointers and 28 of 42 free throws.

PURIFOY RETURNS

Auburn’s Danjel Purifoy, back after missing last three games sprained left ankle, scored five points. He still gives the opposing team another offensive threat to watch out for.

“He’s somebody that you have to watch out for,” Heron said. “You have to keep your eye on him at all times.”

UP NEXT

Alabama remains on the road against Georgia on Wednesday night.

Auburn starts a two-game road stretch at No. 24 South Carolina Tuesday night.

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