Auburn’s championship season ends with NCAA Tournament loss to Yale

SPOKANE, Wash. – All-American Johni Broome recorded his 14th double-double and fourth-seeded Auburn had a chance to advance with a 3-pointer at the buzzer but 13th-seeded Yale upset the Tigers 78-76 in the NCAA Tournament Friday at Spokane Arena. 

 “Congratulate Yale on a great victory,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We respected our opponent. We knew we’d have to play well to win. We did not take good care of the ball. We turned it over too much. They made big shots.”                


Trailing by three with 33.6 seconds to play, Johni Broome drew a foul and made both free throws to pull the Tigers within one at 75-74. 

After Yale made a pair of free throws a second later to go ahead 77-74, Auburn missed a 3-point attempt and two tip-in tries, then fouled the Bulldogs. 

Yale made one of two free throws with 13 seconds remaining, then K.D. Johnson raced to the other end, making a layup and drawing a foul to pull Auburn within two points with 9.4 to play.

Johnson missed the free throw but when both teams shared possession of the rebound, the arrow pointed to Auburn with 7.1 seconds to play. Tre Donaldson drew a foul with 6.1 seconds remaining but missed both free throws.  

Broome rebounded the second miss, but Yale blocked Williams’ shot. K.D. Johnson retrieved the loose ball but his 3-point attempt for the win bounced off the rim as the Bulldogs’ celebrated their upset victory.   

Broome led Auburn with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.

“Johni had a great year,” Pearl said. “Carried this team, particularly at the offensive end. We rely on him a great deal. He’s one of the best centers in all of college basketball as an All-American.”

Denver Jones scored 17 points, and Williams added 13 points and five rebounds. 

Yale used a 10-0 run to overcome Auburn’s seven-point halftime lead before the Tigers answered with their own 10-0 run. Jones’ transition 3-pointer put the Tigers on top 53-46, forcing a Yale timeout with 13:23 to play, then Williams’ jump hook gave Auburn a nine-point lead.   

Facing a double-team, Broome found Chris Moore open for a corner 3-pointer to give Auburn a double-digit lead at 60-50 midway through the second half, but Yale outscored the Tigers 28-16 the rest of the way. 

Yale capitalized on nine Auburn second-half turnovers to take a one-point lead on John Poulakidas’ sixth 3-pointer to lead 73-72 with 2:10 to play. Poulakidas led all scorers with 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 6-for-9 on 3-pointers. 

“That’s the best basketball team we’ve beaten in Yale basketball history, as far as I’m concerned,” said Yale coach James Jones.  

Broome’s 3-pointer gave Auburn an early 10-2 lead, but Yale took advantage of the ejection of Chad Baker-Mazara after a flagrant foul 3 minutes into the game and used a pair of 3-pointers in a five-second span during an 8-0 run to briefly lead before the Tigers regained control. 

“To lose him in that situation was really disruptive to our team on both ends of the floor,” Pearl said. “It had a huge impact on the game.”

Auburn (27-8) made six-first half steals and turned nine Yale turnovers into 13 points. Williams’ steal and slam broke an 18-18 tie. 

Broome’s steal and slam put the Tigers ahead 31-25. Broome nearly logged a double-double in the first half, totaling 13 points and nine rebounds. 

Chaney Johnson ended the first-half scoring by driving for a dunk, drawing a foul and making the free throw to give Auburn a 41-34 halftime lead.

Advancing to the round of 32, Yale (23-9) play fifth-seeded San Diego State Saturday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16 in Boston. The Aztecs defeated UAB 69-65 in Friday’s first game. 

“This team is very special,” Williams said. “We always stuck together no matter what. These guys are going to be my best friends forever for the rest of my life.”

Auburn fans comprised a small but vocal contingent among the 11,051 fans, shooting encouragement to the SEC Tournament champions. 

“Auburn had a historic year,” Pearl said. “We got hot late. This team has done so many great things so I’m very proud of them. They made history. This is the fourth different team at Auburn that has won a championship in the past seven years. They represented Auburn really well.”


» The all-time series is now tied 1-1 between Auburn and Yale. Both teams previously met during the regular season with the Tigers prevailing 86-64 on Dec. 4, 2021, at Neville Arena.

» Auburn is now 1-1 in the state of Washington after winning at Washington, 84-61, last season in Seattle.

» AU is now 19-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games including 7-5 under head coach Bruce Pearl

» Auburn finishes the season with a 27-8 overall record. The Tigers’ 27 wins are the third most in program history, three behind the school record of 30 wins in 2018-19 and two off their 29 victories in 1998-99.

» Coach Pearl is 17-13 all-time in the NCAA Tournament including 2-2 in two tournament appearances with Milwaukee, 8-6 in six trips to the tournament at Tennessee and his 8-5-mark coaching Auburn in the Big Dance.  

» Auburn is now 11-1 all-time in the Round of 64. The Tigers are 11-2 in their opening-round games in the tournament with 11 straight wins prior to Friday’s loss. AU is 9-5 as the higher-seeded team.

» The Tigers went 15-of-22 from the free throw line against Yale. In the game, they went over 600 made free throws in a season for the third time in program history, ending the season with 609 made free throws – the second most in program history. The school record is 647 made free throws in 2017-18. Auburn also went over 800 free throw attempts for the sixth time in program history, finishing the season with 812 attempts on the season (fifth most in program history).

» Auburn shot 27-of-53 (50.9 percent) from the field against the Bulldogs. The 27 field goals gave the Tigers 1,010 on the season, just the third time in program history they have gone over 1,000 field goal in a season (1,097 made field goals in 2018-19 and 1,016 field goals made in 1984-85). Auburn finished the season shooting at least 50 percent in eight of its last 11 games. Friday’s loss was the Tigers’ first loss of the season in 13 games when they shot at least 50 percent.

» AU made 7-of-20 3-point field goals against Yale to finish the season with 280 3-pointers on the season, which is the fifth most in program history. Six of the Tigers’ top eight three-point season totals have come in the last nine years. 

» Auburn recorded six steals in the win over Yale to finish the season with 258 steals on the season, which is tied for 10th-most on the school’s single-season steals list.

» Johni Broome recorded his 60th career double-double, including 14 this season and 24 in two seasons at Auburn, with 24 points and 13 rebounds to go with four assists, two steals and one block against Yale. It marked his fifth game this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He is the first Auburn player to put up at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game since Jabari Smith had 20 points and 14 rebounds against Jacksonville State in 2022. Broome was 7-of-10 from the floor, including 1-of-2 from long range, and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line against the Bulldogs. He ended the season scoring in double figures in 26-straight games.

» Broome’s 24 points are the 10th-most, his 13 rebounds are tied for sixth, his nine made free throws are tied for fourth and his 11 free throw attempts are tied for fourth-most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. He also ranks sixth in school history with 156 career blocked shots. His 79 blocks this season were the fourth-most on Auburn’s single-season blocked shots list.

» Denver Jones finished with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-5 from long range and 4-of-6 from the foul line to go with one rebound against Yale. He finished the season by scoring in double figures in 11 of the last 15 games. Jones closed out the season with 51 three-pointers on 41.8 percent shooting from long range.

» Jaylin Williams scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range, and added five rebounds, one block and one steal in his school-record 141st career game. It was his 64th career game in double figures and his 22nd of the season.

» Dylan Cardwell blocked his 158th career shot against Yale, which ranks fifth most in program history.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer 


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