No. 5 Auburn (27-9) led by seven points going into the final minute, but after New Mexico State (30-5) struggled taking care of the ball all game, it was the Tigers who treated the basketball as if it were lathered in butter in crunch time. Thing came to a head in the last 10 seconds of action - Tigers guard Samir Doughty went 1-for-2 on free throws to give the team a 78-76 lead late.
After a teammate passed up an open layup that could have tied the game, New Mexico State's Terrell Brown was fouled behind the arc and missed two of three free throws as the 12th-seeded Aggies dropped a 78-77 heartbreaker Thursday to fifth-seeded Auburn in the NCAA Tournament.
It looked like it was time for Auburn to start making plans for Saturday's second round.
This will be the Tigers fifth game in eight days after a quick turn around from the SEC tournament, plus they'll be playing about 3,500 ft. higher than they normally do back in the plains.
On the inbounds play, the Aggies looked to Trevelin Queen in the corner for a 3-pointer with a good look, but he delivered the final choke of the afternoon as he missed everything with his attempt.
Senior guard Bryce Brown was named Tournament MVP and Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke joined him on the all-tournament team.
Harper led Auburn with 17 points, though he fouled out late. They'll look to slow the game down and to control the tempo. Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's, which finished the season 22-12.
Auburn advances to play No. 4 seed Kansas on Saturday.
So did New Mexico State.
LSU took on Yale in the No. 3/No. 14 matchup, and the Tigers held on for a 79-74 victory. "I feel like we don't really win that game without J'Von, that's how much of an impact he was in this game". Finally, Florida plays Nevada in a No. 7/No. 10 game.
Cable and satellite subscribers can watch any of the NCAA Tournament games at the March Madness website or mobile app by logging in with their provider credentials. Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points, Jalen Hudson added 15 and the 10th-seeded Gators won their tournament opener for the third straight year.
Tennessee meets Colgate in the first round, while Kentucky will face Abilene Christian.
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