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December 22, 2008

Tigers rally to beat Hornets

Auburn scored 17 straight points and forced eight consecutive turnovers to erase an 11-point deficit in the final 8:33 to claim a 77-72 victory over Alabama State Monday in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn (7-4) won its fourth straight game and trailed 54-43 with 8:33 remaining before it started to inch back into the game. Trailing 59-51 with 5:47 remaining, the Tigers went on their 17-0 run in just over three minutes to take a 68-59 lead on a Tay Waller 3-pointer with 2:25 left.

Alabama State did not attempt a shot from the field during the span.

"We got the pace of the game going, and it helped us offensively to score a little bit because we had struggled scoring," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "I thought they were terrific. Brandon Brooks is terrific, and he really dominated the game.

"I thought Johnnie Lett did a nice job. Rasheem Barrett is getting a little bit better each and every game. Barrett's best game was against Virginia, and he's starting to get a little bit better now. Tay Waller shot the ball very well. I thought our defense was very effective at the end of the second half. Alabama State didn't score very much when we went to the trap."

Alabama State (2-7) has lost to Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State by a combined 18 points. The Hornets used an 11-0 run midway through the first half to take a 21-15 lead on a Rashad Provitt 3-pointer. Auburn scored six straight to tie the game at 21 but Alabama State scored another eight straight points to go up 29-21 before settling for a 29-24 lead at intermission.

Leading 38-37 with 13:04 to play, Alabama State scored 10 straight points to take a 48-38 lead with just under 11 minutes to play. The Hornets pushed their lead to 11 points on two separate occasions before Auburn mounted its comeback.

Waller tied a career-high with six made 3-pointers on 12 attempts to lead Auburn with 21 points, five rebounds and four steals as five Tigers scored in double figures. Barrett continued his stellar play of the bench as he chipped in 12 points, five rebounds (four offensive) and three assists in 28 minutes.

"I think everyone's just ready to go home, and we were overlooking the game in the first half," Waller said. "Coach took us in at halftime and told us that we had to pick it up. Coach told us to get up by five, so we had to pick up our offense too because it was going to pick up the speed of the game. Once we got up by five, the offense started clicking."

Quantez Robertson added 11 points while Lucas Hargrove and Korvotney Barber had 10 points apiece. Barber recorded his second straight double-double with 10 rebounds, and it was his third this season and 11th of his career.

Brooks led Alabama State with a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds and six turnovers. Provitt scored 14 points and had a game-high 14 rebounds while Andrew Hayles added 13 points.

Auburn shot 47 percent (26-of-55) from the field, 36 percent (9-of-25) from 3-point range and a poor 53 percent (16-of-30) from the foul line while Alabama State shot 43 percent from the field (23-of-53), 44 percent (11-of-25) from behind the arc and 65 percent (15-of-23) from the free throw line.

Auburn scored 31 points off 24 Alabama State turnovers compared to Alabama State's 16 points off 16 Auburn turnovers. The Hornets outrebounded the Tigers 39-34.

Auburn takes a week off for the holidays before returning to action to play host to Alabama A&M on Dec. 29 at 7 pm Central.


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