Tigers Win Despite "Cruise Control" Effort

A report with news, notes, quotes and video of Auburn's basketball victory over Kennesaw State is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Juniors Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb, Auburn's top scorers in a 68-55 basketball victory over Kennesaw State on Monday night, did not give their team high marks for intensity.

"We kind of took them for granted after McNeese," said Chubb, who scored 13 points and pulled in seven rebounds. "We were kind of on a high after McNeese. We were kind of going through the motions.

"They (Kennesaw State) lost to Wisconsin by like 60 a couple of days ago and they didn't have their best player so everyone was kind of on cruise control," Chubb said.

"Nobody wants to admit it, but it was pretty much everybody was lackadaisical kind of going through the game," he added. "We just have to pick it up."

Sullivan led all scorers with 22 points as he hit 5-9 treys on a night the Tigers made 8-15 threes. He added two assists and two steals.

"I think I was a lot slower coming to the ball in rotations," he added. "That has got a lot to do with me getting back in shape after being out so long. I think it is going to come back in due time."

Auburn improved to 2-0 with the victory while Kennesaw State fell to 0-2.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee agreed with his players that his team's intensity was lacking compared to the opening night victory over McNeese State. He also said the Tigers were sloppy with the basketball. "We had way too many turnovers (17) as a team," he said.

The coach said the Tigers were solid on offense hitting 46.2 percent of their field goals and 53.3 percent of their threes, but he was not pleased with 12-24 shooting at the free throw line.

"I thought we played decent offensively," he said. "The issue, and it is part of the maturation process this team has to go through, is we got complacent coming off McNeese. You have got a Kennesaw team that just lost by 50 plus to Wisconsin. These guys saw it and then their best player did not play."

Barbee said he liked his team's 42-30 rebounding margin and holding the Owls to 32.7 percent shooting from the field. Barbee said he also liked what he saw from Sullivan, who hit 6-11 field goals and 5-7 free throws.

"Offensively, that was the Frankie that we all know," Barbee said.

Auburn led the whole game as a crowd of 4,760 fans watched the Tigers jump out to a 29-20 lead at halftime.

The Tigers quickly built the lead to 38-20 with 16:57 left to play after a layup by Kenny Gabriel, but the visitors battled their way back into the contest.

The Owls cut Auburn's lead to 53-46 with 6:32 to play on a breakaway dunk after a long pass beat the press. That prompted Barbee to call a timeout to regroup his team.

On the next possession Chris Denson nailed a three from the corner to push the lead back into double digits. On the next trip down the floor Sullivan nailed a three from almost the same spot to stretch the lead to 59-46. Auburn was never threatened after that.

Rob Chubb shoots a jump shot for the Tigers.

The Tigers put four players into double figures in the scoring column in the opener, but just two made it for game two. Gabriel was close with nine points and he added seven rebounds, one behind team leader Allen Payne, who had eight rebounds to go with three points.

Varez Ward added nine points and six assists. Denson came off the bench to score eight points.

Pressing Issue: As they did in the opener vs. McNeese State Cowboys, the Tigers opened the game with full-court pressure defense. However, unlike the Cowboys, Kennesaw State did a good job of getting the ball into frontcourt without mishap thanks to good ball handling and passing by the guards.

Doing the Limbo: Senior guard Tony Neysmith and sophomore forward Josh Langford are still serving a suspension from games and Barbee hasn't said when the pair will return to action other than in practice with the team. They were last seen in game action at the team's public intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 15th.

Halfway There: The Tigers were on top 29-20 at intermission with Chubb leading the Tigers in scoring with nine points. Auburn hit 11-22 field goals, 3-5 threes and 4-7 free throws in the first 20 minutes while the Owls made 7-27 field goals, 1-9 threes and 5-6 free throws.

The Tigers held a 17-15 rebounding edge in building their halftime lead, but hurt their cause with nine turnovers while Kennesaw State had six turnovers.

Just Looking: Markeith Cummings, a 6-7 junior forward for Kennesaw State, did not see action. He is the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring last year with an average of 18.3 points per game. A Kennesaw State official he was not available "for undisclosed reasons." Cummings scored 18 points on Saturday vs. Wisconsin.

Missing Points: Point guards Varez Ward and Josh Wallace combined to make just 2-6 free throws. Ward was 0-2 and missed the front end of a one-and-one.

"We have got really good free throw shooters," Barbee declared. "Free throws is all about repetition and confidence and we have been working on them in practice. It will come in time."

4 Guards: Barbee said this season's roster gives the Tigers the versatility to play big or small lineups. Late in the game the Tigers went with a lineup featuring four guards (Sullivan, Ward, Sullivan and Denson) with 6-10, 245 Chubb.

2-0 Start: The last time the Tigers won their opening two games was to start the 2006-2007 season.

SECing A Good Newcomer: Anthony Davis, a 6-10 freshman forward for the Kentucky Wildcats, is the league's SEC Freshman of the Week. In his first college game he hit 10-13 field goals on the way to scoring 23 points, pulling in 10 rebounds, blocking five shots and dishing out three assists. Auburn Radio Network color analyst Daymeon Fishback said he is extremely impressed with the freshman from Chicago.

Golden Performance: Tennessee sophomore Trae Golden was named SEC Player of the Week after he scored a career-high 29 points vs. UNC-Greensboro. The 6-1 guard from Powder Springs, Ga., added nine assists and six rebounds.

Video Barbee:

On Deck: The Tigers won't play again until Nov. 25th when Nicholls State visits the Auburn Arena.

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