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November 25, 2012Coach Barbee wanted a foul. He didn't get one.
Breaking the huddle with 0.8 seconds on the clock in the first overtime against Rhode Island, Auburn had a three-point lead. Barbee had instructed his team to foul as soon as the Rams got across half court to force two free throws. They didn't.
"There's your game," Barbee said.
Rhode Island guard Xavier Munford made one of his eight three-pointers of the night with time expiring to tie the game at 66-66 and send it to a second overtime.
In the second extra period, the Rams picked up the intensity while Auburn faded.
Munford's final three-pointer of the night put Rhode Island ahead 71-69, and the Rams scored the final four points of the game from the free throw line to win their first game of the year 78-72 in Auburn Arena Sunday night, dropping the Tigers to 2-4 on the season.
Barbee turned to his seniors in the final moments of regulation and each overtime period. Even with the experience on the floor for the bulk of the minutes, Auburn committed 19 turnovers in the game.
"I didn't want to put those freshman and new guys in a position they haven't been in yet," Barbee said. "I wanted guys who had been through the scars, been through the wars. I wanted those experienced guys out there in that time. We didn't execute, and that was my veteran group."
A part of what might have been Barbee's veteran group was suited up against him.
Former Auburn guard Andre Malone, who transferred midway through his sophomore season in 2010, scored 13 points for the Rams. The senior guard said getting his team's first win of the season against Auburn was special.
"It feels great to get our first one," Malone said. "We felt like we should've have three wins by now, but this win feels great, especially because it was in front of my family. We did it for Rhody, and it was against my former team, so that makes it feel extra good."
Brian Greene Jr., who received his first college start against Boston College, was the lone freshman in the starting lineup, but freshman Jordan Price outshined him off the bench.
In an efficient 21 minutes, Price was 7-11 from the floor with 19 points.
After playing Murray State, Dayton and Boston College on the road in the past two weeks, Price said the team has learned each individual has to step their game up to compete against better opposition.
"Every night when we come out, it's going to be competition," Price said. "It's not like our first couple of games where we were playing against some D-III schools. We're playing against top-notch teams, and we need to come out focused."
The focus begins in practice.
"(Barbee) told us look in the mirror and see what our role is as a player on the team," Price said. "We need to look in the mirror and reevaluate ourselves and come to practice with a better mindset."
Barbee said the problems with the offensive production stem from fundamental problems. Not taking care of the ball, not getting into the offense and not knowing what to look for once they finally do.
"We've come some major issues," Barbee said.
With several newcomers, it was difficult to predict immediate success for Auburn. But 2-4 was not what Barbee expected.
"We have a long way to go. A long way to go," Barbee said.
Auburn's next game will be Friday against DePaul in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Tip-off is 8 p.m. at Auburn Arena.