Those are the words that Tony Barbee used to describe sophomore point guard Josh Wallace, but the words could have fit almost every player on Barbee's first Auburn team after the Tigers stunned ACC power Florida State on Monday night at the Auburn Arena.
"Josh Wallace was kind of the motor who gets us going," Barbee said of the five-foot-seven point walk-on from Pensacola, Fla., who was still holding the game ball 10 minutes after the victory with a big smile on his face, noting it was a special night for him to get the victory vs. the homestate Seminoles.
In by far the team's best performance under Barbee, Auburn's defense held Florida State to 35 percent shooting as the Tigers defeated the Seminoles 65-60.
"It gives us a lot of momentum," Wallace said on what the victory means for his team. "Coach preached that and now we just need to take it and learn from it and keep going and keep growing, getting better every day. From the beginning of the season, we've gotten a lot better and it is starting to show.
"We just have to keep believing, keep fighting and just keep on going out there and playing," Wallace added.
Josh Wallace drives and scores late in the game vs. the Seminoles.
The Tigers got 10 points from sophomore center Rob Chubb while Wallace contributed nine points, seven assists and four steals along with plenty of poise handling the basketball.
Auburn evened its record at 7-7 going into Saturday's SEC home opener vs. LSU while the Seminoles of the ACC fell to 11-4.
"It's night and day, a totally different team when you look back to the first of the year," Barbee said of his Tigers, who had trouble beating anybody and struggled in the final minutes of games.
"The guys are understanding when you play hard, it doesn't guarantee you that you are going to win, but good things will happen if you play hard, play together, play unselfish," Barbee said.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Tigers, who hit 46.8 percent of their field goals while making 8-19 threes and 13-18 foul shots.
Auburn's advantage in shooting helped the Tigers overcome being out-rebounded 40-33 by the taller Seminoles and committing 18 turnovers, four more than the Seminoles.
Florida State hit just 5-26 threes and 13-26 foul shots.
Barbee said he liked what he saw from Ross. "Earnest Ross is playing the best basketball I have seen him play. He is playing within himself. He is doing the little things. Coming up with the double-double was big in this game. We had a lot of guys contribute."
Despite the victory, Barbee said there is still plenty of room for improvement. "We did a lot of bonehead things tonight, unforced errors," the coach said. However, all things considered Barbee was happy about what he witnessed.
"We have been playing extremely hard," Barbee said. "I take my hat off the team. That is how hard you have to play to survive."
Auburn took the lead at the 12:01 mark at 11-10 on a three-point shot from the top of the circle by Langford. The freshman hit another one from the same spot to put the Tigers up 14-10. His layup at the 3:47 mark gave the Tigers a 22-17 lead. Langford's third three put the Tigers up 25-19 with just over three minutes left in the opening half.
Langford finished the first half with 11 points as the Tigers took a 27-22 lead into the dressing room after limiting the Seminoles to 24.2 percent shooting. FSU hit just 8-33 shots and 1-15 threes against Auburn's two-three zone in the opening 20 minues.
Auburn hit 12-25 shots in the first half for 48 percent and the Tigers were 3-10 on treys. The Tigers did not shoot a foul shot in the first half and Seminoles made 5-10.
The Tigers were out-rebounded 22-17 in the first half and Auburn had eight turnovers, three more than FSU.
It didn't take the Seminoles long to regain the lead in the second half. A steal and slam dunk by Chris Singleton put FSU up 31-29 prompting Barbee to call a timeout at the 17:22 mark.
Auburn didn't fold, however, and built the lead back to six at the 11:57 as FSU called a timeout when the Tigers went up 42-36 on a three-pointer from the wing by Ross.
The Tigers stretched the lead to 45-36 at the 11:15 mark on an old-fashioned three by Kenny Gabriel. It was the largest margin for either team. Florida State then went on a 9-1 run to tie the game on a three-pointer by Michael Snaer with 6:40 to play.
Auburn kept its composure and took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Langford with 4:43 left to put the Tigers up 4:43. The freshman said he was "feeling it" offensively as he hit 5-10 field goals, including 4-5 treys.
The freshman also noted the team was motivated by reading a prediction they would lose by 20 points to the Seminoles.
Frankie Sullivan stretched the lead to five with a three-pointer with 3:30 to play and the Tigers kept control the rest of the way by hitting their foul shots, handling FSU's press and rebounding FSU's misses.
News and Notes: Auburn didn't get its first foul shot until 13:43 was left in the second half when Langford hit two free throws to tie the game at 36-36...Barbee said that Langford had by far his best game offensively this season...Ross said that he was pleased with his 11 rebounds, but said he wished he would have gotten 15. He noted on a night he wasn't feeling it offensively, he wanted to stay in the game and rebounding kept him on the court for a team-high 35 minutes....Ross had the second double-double of his career...Wallace set a career high with his seven assists...The Tigers hit a season-best 42.1 percent of their treys...Singleton of FSU led all scorers with 20 points and he added 10 rebounds.