Mountaineers beat SEC powerhouse with Charles Barkley in the house

MORGANTOWN, WV—West Virginia’s Erik Stevenson led the Mountaineers with 31 points to help slip by No. 15 Auburn 80-77 in the Big 12/ SEC Challenge Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd.

Even with Charles Barkley cheering on his alma mater from a courtside seat, the Tigers could not overcome another slow start. Auburn (16-5) never led in the contest at all and have lost two straight for the first time in two years.     

Meanwhile the Mountaineers (13-8) have won two straight for the first time in a month. They will now face a tough schedule in the conference that will no doubt determine an NCAA Tournament berth. 

Stevenson was hot, scoring 18 first half points on 6 of 9 shots including three, 3-pointers that gave WVU a solid 45-29 halftime lead. West Virginia’s defense held Auburn’s two top scorers Wendell Green Jr. and Johni Broome to a combined three points in the first half.

The second half was a different story as they led the comeback and trimmed the WVU lead to 66-65 on Broome’s layup with only 5:16 left. However the Tigers could never take the lead. Jimmy Bell Jr. added 15 points for WVU. Auburn was ahead in field goal percentage 49 percent to WVU’s 46. The Mountaineers were 45 percent to Auburn’s 31 percent at three point shooting.   

West Virginia will try to keep the winning streak going with a trip to No. 11 TCU Tuesday January 31.