PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Tyler Polley scored a career-high 24 points and hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 2:58 left in the second overtime to help No. 22 UConn beat No. 19 Auburn 115-109 in Wednesday’s first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Adama Sanogo finished with a career-best 30 points for the Huskies (5-0), who blew a 15-point lead in regulation and squandered a lead late in the first overtime in a wild game. But Sanogo and Polley didn’t let the Huskies stumble in the second overtime, scoring 14 points as UConn finally pushed ahead for good.
K.D. Johnson and top freshman Jabari Smith had their own huge performances for the Tigers (4-1). Johnson scored 23 of his career-high 27 points after halftime, including driving baskets in the final seconds of regulation and the first overtime to extend the game.
Smith, meanwhile, had 19 of his 22 after halftime, including the 3-pointer from in front of the Auburn bench with 2:39 left to erase the last of a 65-50 deficit near the 11-minute mark.
It was a wild game befitting the only first-round matchup pairing two AP Top 25 teams, down to the teams trading big shots starting in the final minutes of regulation. It went on to be the first double-overtime game in the 10-year history of the Atlantis tournament, too.
As the horn sounded, Polley began skipping to the UConn bench to celebrate with teammates, though the celebration froze for a moment at the sight of Isaiah Whaley laying on the court in front of the bench. After a few moments, Whaley got up with a smile to join the handshake line, with team spokesman Phil Chardis saying Whaley was OK and simply exhausted.
Polley’s go-ahead 3 from the right wing started the decisive 9-0 run that pushed the Huskies to a 109-100 lead. Sanogo added two tough baskets in traffic as well as a pair of free throws to cap that run, part of a 12-for-12 effort at the line in the second overtime that helped UConn stay in control as Auburn tried to make a final run.
Auburn: This is the first trip here for the Tigers, who were coming off a 58-52 win at South Florida on Saturday. They looked headed for a big loss in regulation before clawing back in it, but ultimately faded by shooting just 5 of 17 from the field in the second overtime as UConn made its move.
UConn: The Huskies will face Michigan State in Thursday’s semifinals.
Auburn: The Tigers will face Loyola Chicago in Thursday’s consolation bracket.