AUBURN, Ala. — Bryce Brown scored 19 points and Mustapha Heron added 17 to lead Auburn to a 98-77 victory over Cornell on Saturday, extending the Tigers’ winning streak to 10 games.
The Tigers (12-1) enter Southeastern Conference play off to their best start since opening 16-1 in 1999-2000.
“The most important thing is that we got back from the break, we took our opponent seriously and we took care of business,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Cornell is a really good offensive team. They’ll be really competitive in the Ivy League. We obviously outmanned them, and now we head into SEC play 12-1.”
Brown scored 13 points in the second half and made four 3-pointers. The Big Red (5-7) fell behind by as many as 39 points midway through the second half but closed on a 15-1 run, including the final eight.
Cornell has dropped three straight games but the first two came by a total of four points.
Heron made 8 of 10 free throws for the Tigers. Jared Harper and Horace Spencer each scored 12 points, with Harper dishing out seven assists and Spencer collecting nine rebounds. Freshman Chuma Okeke had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Chuma had the quietest double-double out there,” Pearl said. “I’m not sure how he did it. He made some big plays, but I still want more from him.”
Matt Morgan led Cornell with 25 points, right at his season average (25.3 per game). Stone Gettings added 12 points and seven rebounds but hit just 5 of 13 shots before fouling out.
Morgan and Gettings had scored at least 30 points apiece in each of Cornell’s last two games.
“We knew (Gettings) had come off a game, 39 points, so he was probably feeling good about himself, so we didn’t want him to do the same thing against us,” said Auburn’s Anfernee McLemore, who had eight points and five blocked shots. “We made an emphasis to arrive on the catch on his shots so he couldn’t get 3s, and made our main focus to make his night long so he wouldn’t have the same kind of effectiveness against us.”
Auburn outrebounded Cornell 47-30.
The Tigers led 47-35 at halftime and Brown opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead.
“I thought we played hard for a while and then just couldn’t sustain, and (Auburn) figured some things out at halftime,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “But we kind of collapsed a little bit, so I’m disappointed with that.”
Cornell: Missed its final 10 shots of the first half and didn’t make a field goal over the final 6:52. Still hasn’t had a winning nonconference record since 2009-10. Fell to 3-14 in games against current Southeastern Conference members.
Auburn: Won its eighth consecutive nonconference game at Auburn Arena, two shy of the longest streak since the facility opened in 2010. Had solid shooting performance all the way around, hitting 50.7 percent overall and making 8 of 25 3-pointers and 20 of 26 free throws.
Cornell: Hosts Central Pennsylvania College on Saturday.
Auburn: Opens Southeastern Conference play Tuesday night at Tennessee.