Auburn won 76-69 against a Florida A&M team that came into the contest with a 2-9 record. Barbee was not in a mood to celebrate as he watched his Tigers turn the ball over 21 times and shoot just 42.1 percent from the field. The Tigers were 3-16 on threes.
"Playing hard is an issue, shooting is not an issue," Barbee said. "We played down to the level of our competition. That is a bad habit to establish."
Rob Chubb led the Tigers in scoring with 21 points, matching his career high. Frankie Sullivan added 16 points and nine rebounds, Chris Denson scored a dozen points and Kenny Gabriel scored eight points, pulled in 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
None of that impressed the Auburn coach. In fact, he said not one of the 10 Tigers who played performed with the type of intensity needed to be successful against the better teams on the schedule. "That is what is disappointing because we are not going to be better than everybody we play," Barbee said. "We are not going to out-talent any of the teams in Hawaii."
The coach added, "Nobody on my team is playing harder than the other team...Hopefully, it doesn't take a series of losses to get their attention."
Florida A&M was led by 24 points from Avery Moore and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Yannick Crowder. The Rattlers made 35.9 percent of their field goals, 6-18 threes and 17-28 free throws while turning the ball over 20 times.
Rob Chubb shoots vs. Florida A&M. He was 6-11 from the field and 9-10 at the foul line.
Auburn was 25-34 at the foul line and out-rebounded the smaller Rattlers 45-39.
"Give Florida A&M credit," Barbee said. "They played harder than us just like North Florida did the other night."
In contrast to Barbee, the losing coach was the happy coach after the game. "We played extremely well," Clemon Johnson said. "I asked my guys before the game, or I told them, we need to compete. We had been getting out behind and getting beat by 20 or 30 points the last couple of games, and I told them that was just totally embarrassing and showed that we weren't even putting forth an effort.
"All I asked for tonight was to compete so I told them next game, I'm going to ask them for a win," the Florida A&M first-year coach said. "Tonight, I asked for a competition, and we did that. I think we fought all the way through the ball game."
Auburn led 38-32 at halftime and built the lead to 17 points with 5:26 to play, but lost 10 points of the lead with sloppy ball-handling and less than impressive shooting.
Sullivan agreed with his head coach that the Tigers need to avoid playing down to the competition. "That is fact," the junior guard said. "If we don't correct that now it is going to come back to bite us in the long run."
Johnson Still On Hold: Barbee said he hoped to have transfer Noel Johnson ready to play vs. the Rattlers, but the guard was a no-go again with a wrist injury. Barbee said based on how Johnson performed in practice he made the decision to hold him out again on Monday night.
"He is still not there," the coach said. "He is looking okay in practice, but not 100 percent. Those guys have to build confidence in me before I throw them out into a game. He doesn't look like he is ready."
Freshman's Debut: Another injured guard, Cedric McAfee, played for the first time. He was 0-2 from the field and had one rebound in five minutes. He has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot since preseason.
Fellow guard Sullivan said he likes McAfee's intensity. "Ced is going to bring it every night," Sullivan said. "He doesn't know any other way other than to play hard."
Better Pace: With the Tigers picking up their seventh victory after eight games, the team is ahead of last season's pace. It took 14 games to get to seven wins in 2010-2011 and that victory was an impressive one as the Tigers surprised Florida State, 65-63, on January 3rd. That FSU team reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
Home Is Where the Wins Are: Auburn's seven-game homecourt winning streak is its longest since winning seven straight during the 2008-2009 season.
One Man Block Party: Gabriel had seven of Auburn's nine blocked shots. "I just try to time the shot at the right moment,"mhe said. "I guess tonight I was in the right place at the right time to block shots."
Up Next: The most scenic portion of the road schedule is set for this week as the Tigers head to Hawaii for three tournament games. The Tigers will tip off the eight-team event shortly aftern midnight Central Standard Time on Friday (8 p.m. Thursday Hawaiian time) vs. the host team, the University of Hawaii. Other teams in the field include Xavier and Long Beach. Auburn will play one of those teams in the second round in either the winner's bracket or loser's bracket. Kansas State, Clemson, Southern Illinois and UTEP round out the field.
Long Flight: The Tigers are leaving Auburn at 6 a.m. on Tuesday to catch a non-stop fight to Hawaii from Atlanta. Chubb said he and his teammates are excited about making the trip to Hawaii.
"I know we're going out there on business, but, at the same time, I'm looking to slide around in the sand and catch some sun," he said. "It'll be nice, especially in December. Everyone is looking forward to it. The only thing we're not excited about is the length of the flight. We have some big guys and everyone is going to be wrestling over the exit seats. We might have some people with a pillow in the aisle."