2136B210 E8A3 11Ee Bfbf Df1E1Ed56B51

No. 13 Yale came back from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Auburn 78-76 on Friday after Auburn had several chances to score or take the lead in the final 30 seconds.

The Nerds led 61-51 with 9:53 left before Yale slowly chipped away at Auburn’s scoring drought. The Tigers went more than three minutes without scoring when Yale cut the lead to four with 4:41 left.

Yale then took a 73-72 lead on John Poulakidas’ 3-pointer with 2:11 left. The teams traded missed shots before Pulikidas was called for an off-ball foul on Auburn’s Denver Jones with 46 seconds left.

From there, the Bulldogs hung on. Somehow.

Jones, an 88% free throw shooter, missed the first end of a 1-and-1 before Danny Wolf made two more free throws to extend the lead to three. Auburn had a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds left, but Trey Donaldson’s 3-pointer went off the rim.

Then after Yassine Garam made one of two free throws, Auburn’s KD Johnson was fouled with 9.4 seconds left.

Johnson missed the free kick, but Auburn got the ball after a turnover on the return play.

After that, Trey Donaldson was fouled on an inbounds pass under the basket and went to the free-throw line. He missed both free throws … and Auburn got the rebound. Johnny Broome crashed hard to the floor and Jaylin Williams missed a layup as time expired.

Yale Guard Yasine Garam Celebrates With Fans After Yale Upset Auburn In A First-Round Ncaa Tournament Game In Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024.  (Ap Photo/Ted S. Warren)Yale Guard Yasine Garam Celebrates With Fans After Yale Upset Auburn In A First-Round Ncaa Tournament Game In Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024.  (Ap Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Yale guard Yasine Garam celebrates with fans after upsetting Auburn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As Yale celebrated the win, Broom fell to the ground and sat on the court, injuring his right knee.

Poulakidas had a game-high 28 points. He was 10-of-15 from the field and 6-of-9 from the 3-point line. Broome was 7-10 from the field and 9-of-11 from the line and had 24 points.

The win was Yale’s first in the NCAA tournament since the Bulldogs upset No. 5 Baylor as a No. 12 seed in 2016. The Bulldogs have played two March Madness games since then, losing both of their first round games to the No. 14 race.

Auburn’s loss continues a disastrous start to the NCAA tournament for the SEC. The Tigers became the fifth SEC team to lose in the first round, falling just minutes after Florida lost to Colorado. Mississippi State, Kentucky and South Carolina all lost on Thursday. Tennessee was the only SEC school to post a win on the first day of the tournament.

The Tigers entered the NCAA tournament as the defending SEC tournament champions and were 7 favorites to win the national title at BetMGM. You can make a compelling case that Auburn wasn’t seeded at No. 4 earlier in the tournament. But Auburn didn’t play as a favorite on Friday.

Auburn had several chances to put Yale away in the second half and simply couldn’t do it. The Tigers miss Chad Baker-Mazzaro. He was ejected within the first five minutes of the game for a foul on Yale’s August Mahoney. Baker-Mazzara entered the game as Auburn’s third-leading scorer.