Turnovers, Shooting Issues Plague Tigers

Auburn struggled early and late as Tony Barbee's Tigers lost their second game at the Global Sports Showcase event on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn missed eight of its first nine shots to trail early against the Campbell Camels on Saturday at the new Auburn Arena. That slow start was a sign of what was to come for the Tigers, who managed to hit just 35.8 percent of their shots as they fell 61-54 to see their record fall to 0-3.

The Tigers are off to their worst start since opening 0-5 in 1989-90, the first season under Coach Tommy Joe Eagles. Two of those loses, however, were to eventual final four teams.

On Saturday vs. Campbell the Tigers made a comeback and led by eight points at the 14:41 mark in the second half, but the combination of poor shooting and 24 turnovers was too much to overcome.

"You can't beat yourself, and that's what we did," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee, who speculated that approximately half of his team's turnovers were traveling calls, many which were unforced errors.

"We've got to find a way to win," said Barbee, whose Tigers will try for that elusive first victory on Sunday at 5 p.m. vs. Middle Tennessee State in the final game of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase.

Fortunately for the Tigers, Campbell came out cold with its shooting, too. After an Earnest Ross three-pointer at the 17:03 mark, Auburn held a 3-2 lead. However, the Tigers did not score again until nearly five minutes later, falling behind 10-5.

Almost halfway through the first period, Auburn had just eight points on the scoreboard and trailed by seven. The Tigers finally warmed up from long range making 5-9 treys in the first half to take a 30-26 lead at the half.

Early in the second half the Tigers extended their lead to 42-34 and had chances to push the margin into double digits, but went cold shooting again as Campbell scored nine straight points to take a 43-42 lead with 10:42 to play in the game.

"I think when Lorne (Merthie) dropped in that shot there was a big exhale for our team because we were struggling to score from everywhere," said Campbell coach Robbie Laing, a former Auburn assistant coach in the 1990s.

As has been the case in the other losses, the Tigers had a chance to win down the stretch. Auburn was behind just 50-49 inside the 3:00 mark, but sloppy play offensively by the Tigers allowed Campbell to take the seven-point victory.

Andre Malone scored 17 points, leading the Tigers for the second straight night. He scored 28 on Friday. No other Tigers scored in double digits. Allen Payne, who was injured in the closing seconds of Friday's game against Samford, returned on Saturday for Auburn and played 25 minutes scoring six points.

"We have got to find more people that can score the basketball," said Malone. The sophomore guard added, "We're trying hard, but we have got to find a way to win. Right now we don't know how to win so we have got to do a little bit more in practice to find a way to win."

The Tigers got seven points from Adrian Forbes plus seven points, seven rebounds and five assists from Earnest Ross.

Amir Celestin led the Camels, who improved to 2-2, with 13 points.

"It's a learning experience, and we're going to have to improve quickly," Barbee said about his first Auburn team.

"It's the growing pains that I've been talking about since I got here," Barbee added. "Its part of it...understanding how to win. It doesn't happen overnight, it is a process. We put ourselves in a position in all three games this year, two from leads and one from behind...We just don't quite understand how to win and that doesn't happen overnight."

Center Rob Chubb shoots for the Tigers.

In the first half of the doubleheader on Saturday, Middle Tennessee State defeated Samford 68-55. Both of those teams are 1-1 in the Global Sports Showcase that ends on Sunday with Auburn taking on MTSU at 5 p.m. and Samford playing Campbell, which is 2-0 this weekend, in the first game at 2 p.m.

Auburn vs. Campbell Box Score


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