NASHVILLE, TN (WSFA) - JARED. HARPER. That’s all you need to know. Harper’s big time three with 12 seconds left gave the No. 22 Tigers (25-9) a 64-62 lead over the Florida Gators (19-15) in Saturday’s SEC Tournament Semifinal.
Harper then closed it out making one of two free throws left to give Auburn a 65-62 lead with 6.2 seconds remaining. Florida was looking to slay its second giant in 24 hours, beating No. 9 LSU on a last second three in Friday’s quarterfinals. On Saturday, Florida’s three-point attempt with time expiring was no good, sending Auburn to its fourth SEC Championship Game appearance in program history.
Harper finished with 20 points on the day, picking up for fellow backcourt partner Bryce Brown who scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
The Tigers live by the three and die by the three and on Saturday, they lived. Bruce Pearl’s team hit 13-29 (45%) from beyond the arc in the semifinal game, covering up for just five free throws attempted.
It was a close game all game, and a game that came down to the wire. Florida’s Kevarrius Hayes led the Gators in scoring, posting a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. It was his slam with 1:11 left in the game that gave Florida a temporary 61-60 lead.
Saturday’s win was the third in as many days for Auburn, and they will now face No. 8 Tennessee in the SEC Championship. The Vols erased an 8-point deficit with 2:58 to play to defeat No. 4 Kentucky in the other semifinal game.
Sunday’s championship game will begin at noon. It will be broadcast on ESPN. This will be Auburn’s first appearance in the SEC Championship since 2000.