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November 21, 2009

Tigers bounce back with win over IUPUI

After falling behind by 13 points, Auburn used a 26-4 run that bridged both halves together as the Tigers handed IUPUI its first loss, 80-65, Saturday. DeWayne Reed, Frankie Sullivan and Earnest Ross combined for 60 points for the Tigers.

Auburn shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half en route to a season-best 54.7 percent for the game along with going 10-of-22 (.456) from 3-point range in the Glenn Wilkes Classic third round at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Reed scored a career-high-tying 24 points, including 16 in the first half while Sullivan added 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Ross, a freshman, scored 16 points on 6-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc.

"We attacked the zone pretty well and got high percentage looks," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "I thought we got some play from our post guys tonight. We made a change and brought Brendon Knox off the bench. He played better off the bench it seemed like. DeWayne Reed was awfully good the first half, and he just sucked it up the second half because he was only a quarter full speed. We needed him out there.

"We did a good job defensively. They are hard to play against. They are shooting 58 percent as a team coming into this game. They play very differently. It is hard to play a lot of big guys against them, and they spread you out. I thought we made some adjustments in a short turnaround, and we did a nice thing."

The Tigers came out with more energy than the previous night as Sullivan took the opening tip and scored a layup. With the game tied 7-7, IUPUI scored 13 straight points to take a 20-7 lead with 10:55 left in the half.

Sullivan scored five of Auburn's first seven points but picked up his second foul at the first media timeout just over four minutes into the game. The Tigers didn't score a point for 6:44 midway through the first half as the Jaguars went on their 13-0 run.

"That set the tone as Frankie got the first steal off the jump ball when they were trying to tap it back," said Reed. "We knew he wanted to play and everybody else wanted to play, and we came out ready to win. We moved the ball around and broke the defense down.

"Early on in our first game down here, we took quick shots. That's what got easy buckets on the other end for the other team. This is a big win for us."

Auburn (2-2) responded with a 9-0 run to get back into the game at 22-16 on a Knox shot in the lane, a Lucas Hargrove putback, an Ross 3-pointer and a pair of Reed free throws at 7:47. The Tigers then crept to within 24-22 on a Sullivan bucket.

A Reed 3-pointer closed it to 33-32 with three minutes left and then a Sullivan tear drop in the lane and a Reed 3-pointer from the corner gave the Tigers a 37-35 lead, Auburn's first since 2-0. A Reed dunk off a Sullivan steal put Auburn up 39-35 with 39 seconds to go.

IUPUI (3-1) played for the last shot of the half, but Auburn rebounded and Lebo called time out with three seconds left. The Tigers threw it in to Reed, who dribbled the length of the court and scored on a twisting layup and was fouled. Landing hard on his back, Reed wasn't able to shoot the foul shot as he headed to the locker room early.

Under a first-year NCAA rule, IUPUI coach Ron Hunter selected Johnnie Lett, a 40 percent foul shooter a year ago, to take the foul shot. Lett missed as Auburn went into the locker room leading 41-35, capping off a 14-2 Tiger run for the final 3:50 of the half.

Sullivan nailed another trey after intermission and after a pair of IUPUI foul shots, Ross sank another trey followed by a fastbreak layup to give Auburn a 49-37 lead almost two minutes in. Sullivan scored on another fastbreak layup and back-to-back Knox layups gave Auburn a 53-37 lead with almost four minutes in. Bridging the two halves, the Tigers capped a 26-4 run.

"We were pretty consistent getting some good looks at crucial times in the second half and made them," said Lebo. "It's nice to see Frankie Sullivan make them. He has been struggling shooting the ball, and you knew he was going to come out of it. He picked a good night to come out of it."

The Tigers enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 59-42 on a pair of Knox free throws with 14:33 to go. Knox, who had 12 points in the previous three games this season, scored 10 points, including eight straight for the Tigers early in the second half as Auburn gained its largest lead.

IUPUI couldn't get closer than nine points at 70-61 the rest of the way. The Tigers played without Tay Waller for the fourth straight game and Kenny Gabriel for the second straight game as both were out with injuries. IUPUI was led by Robert Glenn's 21 points and Jon Avery's 16.

The Tigers committed a season-low 13 turnovers, forcing 15 and outscoring IUPUI 24-12 in points off turnovers. Auburn held IUPUI to 46.9 percent shooting from the field, including 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from 3-point range. The Tigers shot 85.7 percent (12-of-14) from the foul line.

Auburn returns to action against North Carolina State Sunday at 7:15 pm Central in the Glenn Wilkes Classic final round in Daytona Beach, Fla.


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