Auburn broke ahead of Texas Tech by 19 points during the second half of their game and nearly gave it all back, but LaRon Smith blocked a shot at the rim and the Red Raiders’ last-second heave fell short as the Tigers prevailed in Game 1 of the Riviera Division at the Cancun Challenge.
With 1:16 to go, T.J. Dunans looked to give Auburn (4-0) a clinching effort with a steal and layup to make it 65-59, but Texas Tech (3-1) stayed on the attack and trailed by one, 66-65, after a layup from Devon Thomas. Jared Harper hit a free throw for the Tigers, and Smith was waiting for the final push to the basket, knocking the ball back to almost half court — Zach Smith’s desperation heave was unable to find the rim.
Mustapha Heron had 15 points for Auburn, with Danjel Purifoy adding 11 points and five assists. Harper closed with 10 points; the Tigers shot 41 percent from the field but hit three more 3-pointers than Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders were led by Aaron Ross, who had 17 points. Keenan Evans scored 13 points, Thomas closed with 11 points and Smith had 10 points.
Auburn opened up a 15-point lead at halftime, 38-23, holding the Raiders without a field goal for the last 8:26 of the half.