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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Historically bad offensive performance dooms Auburn in 45-40 loss to Florida

AUBURN, Ala. — After teams scored with ease against Auburn in its first three SEC games, coach Tony Barbee made practice all about defense earlier this week.

“We didn’t do anything offensively and it probably shows, right?” he said.

The Tigers played scrappy, relentless defensive Thursday night but couldn’t overcome an historically abysmal offensive showing, falling 45-40 to Florida at the Auburn Arena.

Florida guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker shook off an ugly shooting night, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the final two minutes to help the Gators (14-4, 3-1 SEC) escape.

It was the fewest points Auburn (7-11) has scored since the advent of the shot clock in 1985.

The Tigers, who will likely be underdogs in their remaining 12 league games, fell to 0-4 in SEC play for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

“Our guys want to win, so it might be disheartening for them,” Barbee said. “But I’m happy with the way we fought. We lost that for a while.”

Auburn trailed by 20 or more points in the first half of its first three SEC games but led 24-23 at the break Thursday. The second half devolved into a one-upsmanship of offensive ineptitude, however.

Florida, which had its lowest point total in coach Billy Donovan’s 15 years, shot 28 percent from the field and made only 5 of 26 3-point attempts.

“I’ve never been a part of holding a team to 28 percent (shooting) and you lose,” Barbee said.

The Tigers didn’t do much better but got four straight points from Kenny Gabriel late in the game. The forward, who tied for game-high honors with 12, scored on a backdoor layup and a follow-up dunk on a fastbreak to give Auburn a 40-37 lead with 3:30 to play

But the offensively-challenged Tigers, who are last in the SEC in scoring, didn’t score the rest of the way, going 0-for-4 from the field and committing two turnovers.

Auburn shot 38 percent from the field (18-48), went 3-for-11 from 3-point range and was a dismal 1-for-8 from the free throw line.

“We’ve had our opportunities but we’ve got to be more competent on the offensive end of the floor,” Barbee said. “We’ve got to continue to play tough, hard-nosed, nasty, mean defense like we did tonight and give ourselves a chance.”

Another injured Auburn player made a surprising return. Forward Ty Armstrong played after missing the first 17 games following ACL surgery in August.

The 6-foot-9 forward played sparingly as a freshman, averaging 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds in 30 games, but was expected to play a major role in Barbee’s first season. Wearing a bulky brace on his left knee, he finished with two points and three rebounds in eight minutes Thursday.

“He wanted to play and he begged me to play,” Barbee said.

Because he returned in the second half of the season, Armstrong is no longer eligible for a medical redshirt like guard Frankie Sullivan.

Chris Denson, a freshman guard from Shaw High in Columbus, made his first career start for Auburn after scoring 12 points Sunday at Mississippi State. He went scoreless but had four assists in 15 minutes Thursday.

6 comments:

Aubiester said...

We will win a couple of SEC games - they are getting close. I do think we go nowhere but up after this year. Barbee is going to have more talent to work with next year. I look forward to a backcourt of Varez Ward and Frankie Sullivan AND NO INJURIES!

Speaking of Basketball the Lady Tigers are 5-1 in the SEC! Keep it up we will be at home for rounds 1 and 2 of the NCAA Tourney.

Walker said...

Andy, I have read your blog for as long as it has been around. Unlike the al.com situation, I know you see every comment that is made on your articles here. Look, I know you are not an Auburn fan, but jeez. I watched this game, and I think this sadly undermanned Auburn squad deserves some respect for keeping this game so close. Your review of the game comes across as horribly negative. If nothing else, be a capitalist - Auburn fans don't want to read such a negative review of their weak team's good effort. I hope you realize that Auburn fans constitute 90% or more of your readership!?

MikeP said...

The guys did all they can do. They appear to be very well coached and with the talent Barbee is recruiting, the next few years should be fun.

This season all that can be done is go to the games and cheer them on, the talent level simply isn't there to win in the SEC..

Anonymous said...

This article seemed to give the team a fair shake. Leave the sugar coating to the Auburn Network. Andy reports the actual news (which in this case was a historically bad offensive performance by the AU Men's team)

easyedwin said...

It is what it is. Thanks, AB

War Eagle AC-47 said...

With about 3:30 left in the first half, the score was 24 Auburn to 21 Florida. Neither team seemed able to score. And to be honest, it was like a high school game. Just at the half the gators closed it up to 24-23.

Our guys looked small next to the Gators. According to the final tally the game remained close. But neither team could get inside or shoot well because defense was not responsible for the low score.