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Tigers of the Game: A trio of players break out and step up in Athens

The No. 14 Auburn Tigers entered Saturday’s game with Georgia down a very important player in Jaylin Williams. Not only was Auburn playing on the road, but they would need to find an answer at forward in order to get a win.

Head coach Bruce Pearl got his answer in the form of three players who stepped up when it mattered most.

Chaney Johnson answered the call by starting at the four in place of Williams, and went on to play his best game in an Auburn uniform. Pearl praised his team’s “next-man-up” mentality and credited Johnson for his solid play in Williams’ absence.

“Chaney Johnson, first Division I start of his career. What a great game. You can see why our team is confident, it’s the next man up,” Pearl said after the game. “Chaney was terrific defensively. Offensively, he was calm. He got that ball inside, took it closer. Ira Bowman has done a tremendous job with Chaney. He’s one of the hardest workers we’ve ever had. He played 26 minutes and didn’t miss a beat. This team does like each other.”

Which players followed Johnson’s lead by making an impact in Auburn’s road win at Georgia? Here’s a look at which players stood out the most to Auburn Wire writers and Auburn fans. Here are the “Tigers of the Game” from Auburn’s victory at Georgia.

Taylor Jones: Aden Holloway

Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers
Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

Bruce Pearl placed Aden Holloway back in the starting lineup Saturday in hopes that it would provide a spark to his play. His dream became a reality as the McDonald’s All-American scored 15 points and recorded three assists in the win over Georgia. Saturday’s game was the first time in 10 games that Holloway reached double-figures, and was the sixth time this season that he has scored 15-or-more points in a game.

Brian Hauch: Chaney Johnson

Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers
Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

Chaney Johnson was tabbed as the replacement forward for Jaylin Williams on Saturday, and would go on to play the best game of his young career at Auburn. Johnson scored a season-high 16 points against Georgia, topping his previous high of 15 points in Auburn’s win over Alabama A&M in November. He made 6-of-9 field goals and assisted with four buckets.

Tyler Raley: Chad Baker-Mazara

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising move, Chad Baker-Mazara earned a start in the Georgia game. In similar fashion as the first two players on this list, the decision to give Baker-Mazara the start turned out to be a wise move by Pearl. Baker-Mazara led the team in points (25) and assists (4), marking the second time this season that he has been the team’s leader in both categories. His 25 points are a career-high, and was the second time that he has scored at least 20 points per game. He scored 20 points in a win over Fresno State during the 2021-22 season as a member of the San Diego State squad.

Fan vote: Chad Baker-Mazara

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn fans have spoken, and they have elected Chad Baker-Mazara as the Tiger of the Game following his emotional performance in Auburn’s win over Georgia. He beat out Aden Holloway, Johni Broome, and Chaney Johnson for the honor by winning 92% of the vote.

To have a say in who wins the next Tiger of the Game honor, head over to The Auburn Wire’s Twitter page after every Auburn basketball game to vote.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire