The Clemson Tigers' nation-leading defense failed them - in the beginning, and then again in the bitter end.
Clemson fell to Auburn, 66-64, on the road on Thursday night, as the War Eagles battled through an extended second-half drought and then ended the game by scoring on 16 of their final 20 possessions.
The loss - Clemson's second straight to a mid-level SEC opponent - dropped the Tigers' record to 8-3. Auburn, which was coming off back-to-back blowout losses, improved to 5-3.
Clemson, after trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, battled back to a 34-34 halftime tie, and then appeared to take control of the game early in the second half.
The Tigers, who entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, held Auburn scoreless on a 13 consecutive possessions. Clemson opened the second period with a 9-0 run, and led 43-34 after an inside move by freshman Sidde Djitte six minutes into the half.
At that point, however, the Tigers' defense failed them.
Auburn scored on four straight possessions, and then struck again on a six-shot possession that ended with a close-range put-back.
Auburn's run continued with back-to-back baskets by Chris Denson, whose drive at the 8:07 mark put his team on top 50-48.
Clemson edged ahead at 52-50 and 56-53, and the game was tied at 58, 60 and 62 before Auburn made three free throws on either side of a turnover by Rod Hall, for a 65-62 lead with 13.6 seconds remaining.
Clemson ended up with a game-winning chance when, trailing 66-64, Hall launched a three-quarters court shot on a perfect line, but inches long. The ball caromed off the back of the iron, and Auburn celebrated an upset victory.
Despite allowing an uncharacteristic 56 percent shooting performance by Auburn, the first half was a 34-34 victory for the Tigers.
The War Eagles came out smoking, hit five of their first seven shots, and led 12-5 at the first timeout break.
A runner in the lane by Denson and a three-pointer from the left corner by K.T. Harrell boosted Auburn's lead to 17-6, and forced Clemson coach Brad Brownell to call a timeout.
The Tigers, who had made just two of their first nine shots at that point, got a three-pointer by K.J. McDaniels - his second of the game - and followed a pair of free throws by Jordan Roper with a fast-break dunk off a feed from Rod Hall.
But when Auburn's Jordon Granger hit a three - the War Eagles' fourth of the first half - Clemson still trailed by 10, 23-13.
At that point, Clemson's nation-leading defense finally found its footing. The Tigers forced a shot clock violation, and then got a blocked three-pointer from McDaniels. Jordan Roper scored on a drive, Landry Nnoko contributed a short jump-hook, and Auburn called timeout with Clemson on a 7-0 run.
The Tigers pulled even at 24-24 on a put-back by Sidde Djitte and a fast-break layup by Hall with 4:46 remaining.
The rest of the first half was a stalemate, as the teams battled to a 34-34 halftime tie. Clemson's final six points of the half came on back-to-back three-pointers by Hall.