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December 1, 2009

Waller's return sparks Tigers to big win

Lucas Hargrove recorded his second straight double-double with 22 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as Auburn scored a season high in points with an 87-52 rout of Alabama A&M in Huntsville's Von Braun Center Tuesday.

Tay Waller added 13 points in 17 minutes, making 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range in his first game this season after being out with a quad injury.

Auburn (4-3) fell behind 7-2 early, but Waller scored his first points of the season on his first shot attempt, a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Tigers their first lead of the game at 10-9.

"It felt good to hit my first three of the season," said Waller. "It felt like a big weight went off of my shoulders. I just went from there and I hit one right after that, too. It felt good to get out and play, but my timing is off a little bit coming off the ball screen, but I will work hard in practiced to get that back."

The Tigers made six straight shots, three of them by Hargrove, on consecutive possessions to take a 23-15 lead at the midway point of the first half. Frankie Sullivan had his streak of 27 consecutive free throws made to start the season come to an end with his miss on the front end of pair of technical foul shots. It is the longest recorded made streak in Auburn history.

After Alabama A&M (2-3) closed to within 23-21 with 8:12 remaining, Auburn ended the half on an 18-3 run to take a 41-24 halftime lead behind 13 points and nine rebounds from Hargrove and eight points from Waller, who was 2-of-3 behind the arc. The Bulldogs went the last 6:21 without a field goal.

"We had stretches there where we were pretty good," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We played a lot of people tonight so getting a chance to do that was good. It was nice to get Tay back out there. He had three days of practice and he was limited in that, and he hasn't really practiced in three and a half weeks. He certainly makes some shots out there for us.

"I was very encouraged in the play of our freshman, Ty Armstrong. I thought he did a nice job when he got in the game, and he gave us a nice lift on the offensive glass and scored in around the bucket area. Offensively, we were pretty good the second half."

The Tigers had eight steals and outscored the Bulldogs 12-0 in points off turnovers, 26-10 in the paint, 12-2 in second chance points and 14-0 in fastbreak points.

Auburn picked up in the second half where it left off in the first by outscoring Alabama A&M 17-6 and stretched its lead to 58-30 with 13:33 left, capped off by five straight points by Hargrove. The Tigers continued to build their lead to 63-32 with Lebo emptying his bench with 11:11 remaining.

"We had to pick it up, and we couldn't slack up," said Hargrove. "We came up here and knew they were a good team, and we had to just come out more aggressive than they did. It is always good to get your leading scorer from last year coming back in Tay. He is our shooter and is a big part of the offense. He was big for us tonight."

Jake Drum nailed a 3-pointer to give Auburn a 78-44 lead with 3:43 to go and then an Andre Malone putback monster dunk gave the Tigers their largest lead at 80-44 with 3:04 remaining.

Malone added 10 points while DeWayne Reed and Armstrong had eight points apiece as all but one of the 14 Tigers scored. Casey Cantey led Alabama A&M with 21 points.

Auburn outshot Alabama A&M 50.7 percent to 33.3 percent and outrebounded the Bulldogs 52-31. The Tigers had advantages of 54-22 in the paint and 25-7 in points off turnovers. The Tigers also had 16 steals.

Auburn returns to action as it plays host to Troy on Friday at 7 pm Central in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Saturday Six Pack ticket packages are on-sale now and include a reserved ticket to six Saturday games for only $59. Purchasing the Six Pack saves $36 off the regular price and guarantees a seat for the Kentucky, Georgia Southern, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Alabama games. To purchase, visit AuburnTigers.com or call 800-AUB-1957.


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