AUBURN, Ala. - The third-ranked Lincoln Memorial men's basketball team opened its 2018-19 season by giving the Auburn Tigers a bit of a scare on Friday night at Auburn Arena with a 76-62 exhibition loss.
Seven players made their first-ever appearance for the Railsplitters, who also debuted four new starters from last season's No. 1 nationally ranked team. Despite that, Lincoln Memorial managed to lead for nearly nine minutes against the No. 11 and defending Southeastern Conference champion Tigers.
Preseason All-American Cornelius Taylor was the star of the show for the Railsplitters, scoring a game-high 25 points to go with three rebounds and a pair of assists. The redshirt-junior struggled from the field, though, with an 8-for-22 mark, including a 4-for-15 effort from three.
Transfer Anthony Brown added 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and a team-leading eight rebounds, while Cameron Henry had 12 points and five rebounds while going 2-for-3 from three-point range. No other LMU player produced more than three points.
Both teams struggled offensively as the Railsplitters shot 36 percent overall and 21 percent from three-point range, while Auburn was only slightly better with a 41 percent mark from the field and a 23 percent clip from three.
Jared Harper paced the Tigers with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while Horace Spencer had 14 points and eight rebounds. Anfernee McLemore chipped in 13 points and six rebounds, while Chuma Okeke posted a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Back-to-back buckets from Brown pushed the Railsplitters out to a 9-4 lead at the under-16 media timeout, and a three-pointer helped LMU maintain a 14-9 cushion by the second media timeout of the half.
Taylor buried a three-pointer at the 11:28 mark of the opening half to give the Railsplitters their largest lead of the game at 17-11, but Lincoln Memorial wouldn't score again until Taylor hit two free throws with 8:37 on the clock to put the Railsplitters back in front 19-18.
From there, the two teams traded the lead until back-to-back three-pointers from Bryce Brown and McLemore pushed the Tigers ahead 26-21 with just under six minutes left in the half.
A bucket from Steven Perriere cut the Railsplitters' deficit down to 30-28 with just over two minutes left, but Auburn closed out the half on a 6-0 run to take a 36-28 lead into the break.
The Tigers scored on their first possession of the second half to extend their lead to 10 points, and later increased their lead to 11 on a bucket from Harper at the 17:20 mark.
The Railsplitters withstood that run, though, using a bucket and a free throw from Brown and a layup from Taylor to close the gap to 44-38 with 14:22 left in regulation.
Lincoln Memorial would pull as close as four points on two separate occasions after that, making it a 46-42 game on a pair of free throws from Taylor, and later cutting it to 52-48 on a triple from Taylor.
However, that's as close as it would get as the Tigers followed up that Taylor three-pointer with an 8-0 run to pull ahead 60-48 with less than eight minutes left.
The Railsplitters never trailed by less than seven from that point on, as Auburn steadily pulled away to secure the 76-62 victory.