Tigers Can't Overcome Scoring Drought

The Auburn men's basketball team tried to overcome a horrible start to the second half, but didn't have enough time to catch the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Fayetteville, Ark.--After a respectable first half performance the Auburn basketball Tigers missed their first 22 shots of the second half and dug a hole they couldn't escape from in a 73-64 loss at Arkansas on Tuesday night.

The Tigers, who led much of the first half, trailed 34-30 at halftime. Auburn didn't score in the second half for five minutes and 12 seconds when Earnest Ross hit the second of two free throws.

The Tigers didn't hit their first field goal of the second half until Tony Neysmith's basket with 8:37 left in the game. That cut the lead to 55-33.

Trailing by as many as 24 points, Auburn got back into the game with much improved shooting that produced a 13-0 run for the visitors.

With 2:23 to play Auburn cut the lead into single digits when freshman guard Chris Denson hit a three to make the score 64-55.

The Tigers cut the gap to six when Adrian Forbes scored inside and was fouled. He made his free throw to cut the gap to 68-62, but that was a close as the Tigers could get as the home team took care of business at the free throw line to preserve the victory. Julysses Nobles was 8-8 at the foul line in the closing two minutes and five seconds for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas evened its record at 3-3 in the conference and improved to 13-7 overall.

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers fell to 0-6 in the SEC and 7-13 overall.

"We played well enough in the first half," Barbee said. "We kept it close. We kept it within striking range and then we come out in the second half and go ice cold--almost lifeless. Then you are scrambling for your life trying to catch up and get back into the game."

On the plus side the Auburn coach said he liked the fight his team showed in coming back after the horrible start in the second half. He also liked the production of backup center Adrian Forbes, who contributed his Auburn high of 11 points and three rebounds for the Tigers. The juco transfer made five of his six shots.

Ross led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points and freshman guard Allen Payne added 13 points.

"I told our guys to keep fighting, keep fighting--that other team was going to have a letdown," Barbee said in discussing his team's comeback. It is a game of runs. Our run came, but we just couldn't get over the hump."

Neither team could make a run in the first half. Arkansas led 34-30 as the Razorbacks got 10 points from Rotnei Clarke, who tied for game-high scorer with Nobles at 16 points.

Shooting continued to plague the Tigers as they made just 24-68 shots for 35.3 percent while the Razorbacks made 47.8 percent from the field.

Each team was 3-11 on threes. Auburn made 13-18 foul shots while Arkansas cashed in on 26 of 34 free throws.

Arkansas out-rebounded the Tigers 39-36. Auburn forced 17 Arkansas turnovers and committed just 11.

Auburn got back into the game by outscoring Arkansas 26-10 in points off of turnovers and 32-13 in bench points as Barbee substituted heavily trying to find the right combinations to spark a team that has had problems scoring.

Auburn returns to action with a road trip to South Carolina on Saturday.

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