Tulsa holds off Auburn 53-35

LAS VEGAS (AP) James Woodard scored 16 points to lead Tulsa over Auburn 53-35 on Monday.

Tulsa (3-1) advances to the MGM Main Event final to play Oklahoma State, a 66-53 winner over Oregon State, Wednesday night.

The Golden Hurricane shot 48 percent from the floor and was 9 of 17 on 3-pointers. Conversely, Auburn (2-2) made just 31 percent of its shots and missed 20 of 22 three-pointers.

Auburn forward Cinmeon Bowers had 17 points and 15 rebounds, his fourth double-double in a row.

Tulsa had little trouble handling Auburn’s defense in the opening half, making 7 of its first 10 shots and 5 of 6 from three-point distance to take a 28-21 lead. The Golden Hurricane could have widened its lead even more but missed five of its final six shots before the buzzer.

Rashad Ray had 13 points and Rashad Smith added 12 points and eight rebounds for Tulsa.

Auburn shot just 34.6 percent in the first half and made only one of 11 three-point attempts. The Tigers’ poor shooting was compounded by their inability to take care of the ball, resulting in 12 turnovers. Auburn had 23 total turnovers in the game.

Auburn guard KT Harrell, who had scored at least 20 points in each of his first three games, had just two points.

TIP-INS

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane started five juniors Monday night, but it’s clearly a veteran team. Four of five starters are back from last season’s team that advanced to the NCAA tournament before losing in the first round to UCLA. They showed it against Auburn, playing smart defense and shooting 53 percent, then holding off a charge by Auburn midway through the second half.

Auburn: The Tigers may have been missing some offensive firepower. Guard Antoine Mason, who led the nation in scoring last season at Niagara (25.6 points a game), missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle. He scored 19 points in his debut and is attending Auburn as a graduate student after earning his degree in four years at Niagara.

UP NEXT

Tulsa plays Oklahoma State in the championship game Wednesday night.

Auburn faces Oregon State in the consolation game.