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February 18, 2009

Tigers down Dawgs for fourth straight win

Auburn scored 22 straight points midway through the first half and held Georgia to only seven points for the first 14:29 as the Tigers won their fourth consecutive game in a 71-59 victory over Georgia Wednesday in Stegeman Coliseum.

It was the Tigers' largest margin of victory in Athens since 1977.

Tay Waller led the Tigers for the third straight ltime with a game-high 20 points and Korvotney Barber added 11 points and a career-high tying 18 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the season.

Waller scored 12 of Auburn"s first 20 points as the Tigers jumped out to a 38-9 lead with 5:20 to go in the half as Auburn (17-9, 6-5) made 11 of its first 15 shots while Georgia was only 2-of-18 from the field.

"I am proud of my team," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We had a great start, and we knew Georgia would come back and make a run at us, which they did. They made some shots in the second half.

"I am proud of my team for showing some composure in the second half and finding a way to finish it out in the last couple of minutes."

The Tigers led 45-19 at the half while shooting 50 percent (17-of34) from the field and 46.7 percent 7-of-15) from 3-point range. Auburn outrebounded Georgia 27-15 behind 11 first half rebounds by Korvotney Barber.

Auburn, which had 10 offensive rebounds, also had a 14-3 edge in points off turnovers while forcing the Bulldogs into 10 and only committing five in the first 20 minutes.

"The first half, we came out shooting the ball pretty well," said Waller, who was coming off a career-high 32 points in the win vs. Mississippi State on Saturday. "On the road, you need to shoot the ball well to win.

"The second half, we tried to slow it up a little bit and that is not our style really. As you can tell, we let the lead slip away and with five minutes to go. We picked it back up, and we started back playing Auburn basketball."

With Auburn leading 49-22 with 15:36 remaining in the game, Georgia (10-16, 1-10) went on a 32-5 run to close to within 60-54 with 4:12 left with the help of four 3-pointers by Dustin Ware and trey each from Ricky McPhee and Troy Brewer.

Auburn only scored 12 points in the first 15 minutes after intermission.

For the game, Auburn shot 45.5 percent (25-of-55) from the field, 33.3 percent ((7-of-21) from 3-point range and a poor 48.3 percent (14-of-29) from the foul line. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 30.5 percent (18-of-59) shooting and 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from 3-point range.

Auburn had lost three straight games to Georgia and five of the previous six and was the Tigers first win in Athens since 1999. It was the Tigers' second straight win when facing a SEC Eastern Division team.

The Tigers have won four straight SEC games for the first time since starting league play in 2002-03 with four consecutive wins.

Auburn is over .500 in league play for the first time this late in the season since that same year when the Tigers reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, losing to eventual National Champion Syracuse by one point.

The win guarantees Auburn of its second winning season in three years and equals the most wins in a season for Lebo at Auburn with the 2006-07 Tigers.

Ware led Georgia with 14 points, all in the second half, Trey Thompkins had nine points and Terrance Woodbury, who was coming off a career-high 32 point performance in the win vs. Florida Saturday, was held to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.

Auburn returns to action as it goes for its fifth consecutive league win at SEC-leading LSU in the Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday at 7 pm Central. The Tigers haven't won five SEC games in a row since winning eight straight in the 1998-99 SEC Championship season.


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