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Friday, November 12, 2010

UNC Asheville spoils Tony Barbee's debut, beats Auburn 70-69 in overtime

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn entered a new era of basketball Friday night, introducing new head coach Tony Barbee and christening its sparkling new $86 million arena.

Everything went off without a hitch — except for the result.

UNC Asheville spoiled the Tigers' party by rallying from a 16-point first-half deficit to come away with a 70-69 win in overtime.

Auburn (0-1) had chances in regulation and overtime to win but came up short both times.

Guard Earnest Ross missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation. Point guard Josh Wallace lost his handle on the ball while driving to the hoop in the final seconds of overtime, turning it over as time ran out.

"My job — that’s why I'm here — is to change the culture," said Barbee, who was hired last spring to replace Jeff Lebo after six mediocre seasons on the Plains. "Losing is not your fate. It’s not your fate, so don’t accept it."

UNC Asheville (1-0), the preseason runner-up in the Big South, won for only the third time in 27 tries against an SEC school.

"It's great for the Big South to compete with some of the big boys," Bulldogs coach Eddie Biedenbach said.

Matt Dickey had 18 points and J.P. Primm 16 for the Bulldogs. John Williams added 10 points and 11 rebounds, getting the game-tying tip-in with 33 seconds left in regulation.

Kenny Gabriel paced Auburn with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Allen Payne scored 14 points, Earnest Ross 12 and Andre Malone 11 in the loss.

It took some luster off the inaugural regular season game in the $86 million Auburn Arena, the Tigers' new home after spending 42 years across the street at the dingy Beard-Eaves-Memorial Stadium.

In their well-lit, squeaky clean new confines, Tigers fans enjoyed a pre-game show of pyrotechnics, pageantry and even one of the school's famed eagles (although it didn't fly).

Things looked good early for the home crowd. Auburn, which split a pair of exhibition games against Division II competition, built a 37-21 lead at halftime, using a strong defensive effort and an overhwelming rebounding advantage to seize control. The Tigers went on an 18-2 run at one point, holding the Bulldogs to one field goal in an eight-minute span.

Auburn held a 50-38 rebounding edges for the game, getting 10 from Rob Chubb and nine from Ross.

But as the game slowed down in the second half with an avalanche of fouls, UNC Asheville worked its way back. The Bulldogs made 17 free throws and got 13 second-half points out of Primm, who made three of his game-high four 3-pointers after the break.

Auburn still led 62-54 with 1:43 remaining, but before Primm hit a 3-pointer and Dickey made two free throws. After a Tigers free throw, the Bulldogs cut the lead to two on center D.J. Cunningham's tip-in.

In the final minute, Wallace turned the ball over in Auburn's backcourt by stepping on the sideline, giving UNC Asheville a shot.

After Primm missed a pair of free throws, Williams' tip-in tied things at 63, extending the game another five minutes.

"We stopped executing, we stopped rebounding," Gabriel said. "Mentally and physically, we just didn't execute. That's all it was."

UNC Asheville never trailed in the extra session, building a 70-65 lead on four straight points by Williams.

Auburn cut the deficit to one on a 3-pointer by freshman Adrian Forbes before Wallace's turnover.

"We are what we are," Barbee said. "I thought we played hard. I thought for the most part we battled for the majority of the game, but the bottom line is our lack of experience showed."


Tar Heel Tiger said...

oh boy. will we need to hands to count the wins this season?

Tar Heel Tiger said...


I guess the thought of AU not getting many W's this season caused me to omit one.

Anonymous said...

So, Andy-- what's you take on this team at this point?