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Auburn falls to Yale in massive first-round upset

The Auburn Tigers season came to a close in the first round of the NCAA Tournament courtesy of a 78-76 defeat to the 13th-seeded Yale Bulldogs in Spokane, Washington this weekend.

With six turnovers over the final seven minutes of the game, Auburn gave away a 10-point lead and failed to kennel an underdog opponent. The Tigers shot 3 of 9 from the field and 2 of 7 from the free throw line from 7:27.

John Poulakidas was the hero for the Bulldogs, scoring a career-high 28 points and making six of his nine three point attempts:

Johni Broome’s sensational performance was not enough to carry the Tigers to victory, with the Auburn star putting up yet another double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Auburn led 41-34 at halftime via a 50 percent shooting performance and continued that pace in the second half, but turnovers and sloppiness down the stretch cost the Tigers a Round of 32 appearance.

Star wing Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected just three minutes into the game after a flagrant foul, which Bruce Pearl said at halftime would hurt them down the stretch.

At the podium after the game, Pearl explained his thoughts on how the shocking result occurred:

“I’d like to congratulate Yale on a great victory. We respected our opponent. We played ’em a couple years ago and they played us tough and we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. We knew we would have to play well to win. We did not take good care of the ball. We turned it over too much. But it was a great game. Obviously they made big shots and John [Poulakidas] got hot and we just couldn’t guard him. He made some big plays and big buckets. That’s what guys got to do at the end of things,” he said.

In the wake of the defeat, Bruce Pearl said it was difficult to assess the season as a whole in the immediate aftermath of such a difficult loss.

“It’s tough to reflect on the season when you just go through one of the most disappointing losses in your career. I’ve been in the 12 spot. We’ve had these great wins. This is the biggest upset in NCAA tournament that I think I’ve experienced. I’m glad we lost to a really good team in Yale,” he said.

Auburn ends the season as SEC Tournament champions, but ultimately a defeat that will sting Tiger fans for a very long time.

Michael Brauner is a Senior Sports Analyst and Contributing Writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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