April 17, 2024

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No. 13 Yale makes a splash in the NCAA Tournament, defeating No. 4 Auburn

No. 13 Yale makes a splash in the NCAA Tournament, defeating No. 4 Auburn

SPOKANE, Wash. — John Poulakidas scored 28 points, Samson Aletan made a key block during a wild scramble in the final seconds, and 13th-seeded Yale rallied in the final five minutes to defeat No. 4 seed Auburn 78-76 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

For the second year in a row, the Ivy League Tournament champion knocked off one of the pre-tournament favorites — beating many of the March Madness brackets once again.

Last year, Princeton knocked off Arizona. This time, it was Yale's turn.

The Bulldogs (23-9) won an NCAA Tournament game for only the second time in school history, rallying from a 10-point deficit midway through the second half. After the final seconds passed, the players celebrated at the scorers' table in front of their fans.

Yale will face No. 5 seed San Diego State in the second round on Sunday.

Poulakidas hit big shot after big shot. His 3-pointer with 2:10 left gave the Bulldogs a 73-72 lead. Yale never trailed again, despite a chaotic final stretch that included Auburn firing two shots in the final seconds after a missed free throw, one of which was turned down by Aletan.

Auburn's KD Johnson had a contested look for a winning 3-pointer at the buzzer that was offline.

Johnny Brohm led Auburn (27-8) with 24 points and 13 rebounds, but he collapsed on the court after the loss. It looked like he might have hurt his right knee at the last concert.

Auburn rolled into the SEC Tournament last week and has become the favorite as a team that can beat overall No. 1 seed UConn should the duo end up clashing in the Sweet 16.

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But the Tigers failed to make it out of the first round and joined fellow SEC schools South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida and Mississippi State amid early departures from March Madness.

Auburn led 68-58 with 7:27 left after Denver Jones hit a 3-pointer, but the Tigers were outscored 20-8 the rest of the way. Auburn did itself no favors by missing five free throws in the final 3 1/2 minutes.

Yale's rise began with a 3-pointer from Bez Mbeng, who shot 24% from beyond the arc this season. Poulakidas hit two jumpers and Dustin Wolfe's free throws tied Yale at 70-70.

Broome scored for Auburn, but Poulakidas answered with a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute.

August Mahoney added 14 points and Wolf finished with 13 before fouling out late.

Jones scored 17 for Auburn and Jaylen Williams added 13, but the Tigers played almost the entire game without winger Chad Baker-Mazzara after he was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 in the game's opening minutes. Replays showed Becker Mazara appearing to elbow Mahoney as the pair ran down the lower area and officials conducted a lengthy review before announcing the sending off.