March Madness: No. 13 Yale comes back to upset No. 4 Auburn 78-76

No. 13 Yale came back from a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat No. 4 Auburn 78-76 on Friday after Auburn had countless chances to tie or take the lead in the final 30 seconds.

The Tigers led 61-51 with 9:53 remaining before Yale slowly pulled away from the lead thanks to an Auburn scoring drought. The Tigers went more than three minutes without scoring as Yale cut the deficit to four with 4:41 left in the game.

Yale then took a 73-72 lead on a 3-pointer by John Poulakidas with 2:11 left in the game. The teams traded missed shots before Poulikidas committed an off-ball foul on Auburn's Denver Jones with 46 seconds left.

From there, the Bulldogs were stuck. Somehow.

Jones, an 88% free-throw shooter, missed the first end of 1-and-1 before Danny Wolf hit 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 hit the rim.

Then, after Yasin Gram made one of two free throws, Auburn's KD Johnson was fouled while making a layup with 9.4 seconds left.

Johnson missed his free throw, but Auburn got the ball back on a possession arrow after tying the rebound.

Then Trey Donaldson was fouled under the basket on an inbounds pass and went to the free throw line. He missed both free throws…and Auburn got the rebound. Johnny Brohm missed a game-tying rebound as he hit the ground hard and Jaylen Williams' shot was blocked before time expired.

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Yale guard Yassin Gharam celebrates with fans after Yale's win over Auburn in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Yale guard Yasin Gharam celebrates with fans after Yale's win over Auburn in an NCAA Tournament first-round game on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Broome appeared to suffer a right knee injury when he fell to the ground and sat on the court while Yale celebrated its victory.

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

The win is Yale's first NCAA Tournament win since the Bulldogs knocked off No. 5 Baylor as a No. 12 seed in 2016. The Bulldogs have made two March Madness appearances since then and lost both of their first-round games as the no. .14 ​​seeds.

Auburn's loss continued a terrible start to the SEC's NCAA Tournament. The Tigers became the fifth SEC team to lose in the first round as they fell just minutes after Florida lost to Colorado. Mississippi, Kentucky and South Carolina lost on Thursday. Tennessee was the only school in the SEC to have a win on the first day of the tournament.

The Tigers entered the NCAA Tournament as SEC Tournament champions and were the No. 7 favorite at BetMGM to win the national title. You could make a convincing argument that Auburn wasn't a top-4 seed heading into the tournament. But Auburn didn't play like a favorite on Friday.

Auburn had numerous opportunities to put Yale away over the course of the second half and simply could not do so. The Tigers also missed Chad Baker-Mazara. He was ejected within the first five minutes of the game for a flagrant foul 2 on Yale's August Mahoney. Baker Mazzara entered the game as Auburn's third-leading scorer.

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