Johni Broome recorded a double-double, and No. 9 seed Auburn held off a late comeback bid to pull off an 83-75 victory over No. 8 Iowa in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday night in a first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region.
Broome finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Tigers (21-12), who will face top-seeded Houston in the second round. The Cougars downed 16th-seeded Northern Kentucky 63-52 on Thursday.
Wendell Green Jr. chipped in 15 points for Auburn, while Tre Donaldson, K.D. Johnson and Jaylin Williams tallied 11 apiece.
The Tigers opened up a 12-point advantage at the 12:24 mark of the second half after a 3-point barrage that featured five treys during a 3:41 span. The lead soon grew to 17 when Donaldson drained a triple and Allen Flanigan made a layup.
Iowa didn’t waver, though, and Kris Murray knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and had a ferocious dunk during a 19-6 run to make it a four-point game, 64-60, with 5:07 remaining.
“I told our guys it’s going to get down to single digits now,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Iowa was down big at home to Michigan State and they came back won that thing. We knew they’d come back.”
But Auburn went back up 10 with 1:19 remaining thanks to a Williams fastbreak dunk, and it held on from there.
Payton Sandfort finished with a game-high 21 points for the Hawkeyes (19-14). Murray contributed 15 points and nine rebounds, and Filip Rebraca notched 14 points.
Transition offense made the difference, as Iowa was outscored 26-8 on the fastbreak.
Neither team led by more than four through the opening 10 minutes of the game, but Auburn ripped off a 9-0 spurt that included four points from Broome to go up 21-12 with eight minutes left in the first half.
The Hawkeyes pulled within three on four occasions to close the period before the Tigers settled for a 31-26 edge at the break. Broome (eight points and Flanigan (six) led Auburn, while Rebraca led all first-half scorers with 10 points.
Both teams struggled mightily from beyond the arc, combining to go just 1-for-18 (5.6 percent).
–Field Level Media
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