MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia had to make it interesting for its sellout crowd.

Erik Stevenson scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Mountaineers over No. 15 Auburn 80-77 at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday. WVU earned its first win in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge since 2020 and tipped the competition off with a victory for its league.

Stevenson led the Mountaineers to own the first half. He notched 14 points before the half to help lead WVU to a 16-point lead by the halftime break.

The Tigers kept the game more than interesting in the second half after WVU extended its lead to 17, its biggest of the game. Auburn put together a series of small runs to slowly claw back into the game and whittle the deficit down to single digits.

Finally, with just over five minutes left in the game, Johni Broome made layup to bring Auburn within a point.

Stevenson helped push the door shut with a pair of three-pointers to give the Mountaineers some breathing room. He finished with seven in the game, tying the third-most in program history.

That forced the Tigers to send WVU to the foul line, where the Mountaineers were steady during the game. They weren’t quite so in the final minute, though, as Stevenson and Kedrian Johnson combined to miss three of their five attempts from the stripe to give Auburn the opportunity to tie the game.

Down three, Auburn had a short opportunity to send the game to overtime. Wendell Green Jr. took the final shot but missed the basket, allowing WVU a sigh of relief.

Stevenson led the game with 31 points, WVU’s first 30-plus point game since the 2021 NCAA Tournament (ironically, against Broome’s Morehead State squad.). Jimmy Bell Jr. added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Jaylin Williams added 18 points for the Tigers, 12 of which came during the halftime comeback. Broome scored 15 points and seven rebounds.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl will lament his team’s performance from the free throw line, as the Tigers converted 13-of-18 foul shots. WVU made 21-of-25 and entered the final minute with just one miss on the day.

West Virginia earns its first win in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge since 2020 when the Mountaineers beat Mizzou at home. It is the Mountaineers’ third win in the challenge since first appearing in 2013.

The Mountaineers return to their conference slate on Tuesday when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to face No. 11 TCU. Tip-off at Schollmaier Arena is set for 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.