Defense And Denson Highlight Auburn's Victory

The Auburn basketball Tigers cruised to a third straight victory vs. Tennessee Tech with good defense leading the way.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn basketball team is back to .500 for the season following a comfortable 81-62 victory vs. visiting Tennessee Tech on Tuesday night.

The Chris Denson Comeback Tour continued at Auburn Arena as the junior guard led the Tigers with 20 points as he hit 9-10 free throws and had the play of the night with a monster, running, left-handed slam dunk.

Denson also contributed to a strong defensive effort by the Tigers, who held Tennessee Tech to 37.3 percent shooting. Included in that total was just one made three-pointer in 18 tries for Tech.

In contrast, the Tigers hit 7-18 threes. Freshman guard Jordan Price was 3-3 behind the arc and now has made 11 consecutive three-pointers, which is four shy of the NCAA record, and it ties the SEC record.

Asked if he has ever made 11 straight three-pointers before, the six-foot-five freshman said, "Probably in practice, but never in games."

Price was more impressed with Denson's dunk than his own shooting. "That was a Top 10 dunk all day," the freshman said with a smile.

Denson admitted that he enjoyed getting the running left-handed, hammer dunk over a defender, who went up for the block. "I guess he didn't think I?could jump," the junior guard said with a grin.

Video Of Denson's Dunk

"I have had a couple on somebody, but that was, by far, the nastiest dunk I?have ever did," added Denson, who has played well in all three games since he returned from an academic suspension that kept him out of games during fall semester.

Price scored 12 points for the Tigers and Josh Wallace finished with 11 points, seven assists, three steals and just one turnover in by far his best game of the season for the Tigers, who improved their record to 5-5.

Tennessee Tech, which got 22 points from Judd Dillard, fell to 6-5 with the loss.

Auburn hit 43.1 percent of its field goals, including 50 percent after halftime. The foul-happy Golden Eagles sent the Tigers to the foul line 40 times and Auburn made 30.

Coach Tony Barbee said he is continuing to see improvement from his team that has won three consecutive games. "I see this team advancing and taking positive steps," he said. He noted that the Tigers finished the night with 19 assists, a number he liked because it shows the players are "sharing the ball."

Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, who led Auburn in rebounds with eight, scored five points, including two on this slam dunk in the second half.

Auburn led by as many as 28 points with 6:56 to play on a night Barbee cleared the bench and played everybody. However, his two most experienced players, seniors Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb, had their struggles vs. the Golden Eagles.

Sullivan was 0-5 from the field and scored all of his five points on six free throw attempts. Chubb finished with seven points and added six rebounds, but was out of sync much of the night and had trouble coming up with rebounds and loose balls.

"I may be wrong, but I think he can give us a lot more than he is giving us," noted Barbee, who said the 6-10 center has enough talent to be one of the top big men in the SEC this season.

Barbee said that Sullivan is obviously having some struggles in his dual role as a point guard/two guard, but said that doesn't explain the number of shots the senior has missed in recent games.

"I have got to find a way to get Frankie, at the one, playing better," Barbee said. "He is getting wide open threes. He should be shooting 50 percent with the looks he is getting.

Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said his team's inability to deal with Auburn's defense was a problem. "I thought Auburn played really hard defensively and took us out of some stuff offensively," he said. "We didn't make a lot or execute real well, but a lot of that was their defense."

Starting Lineup: For a third consecutive game Barbee started senior guard Frankie Sullivan, junior guard Chris Denson, junior forward Allen Payne, freshman guard/forward Shaquille Johnson and senior center Rob Chubb.

Halftime Numbers: Auburn built a 38-21 halftime lead with defense, allowing the visitors to hit just 9-32 field goals prior to intermission. The Golden Eagles took a goose egg on 10 tries behind the three-point line.

Auburn made 11-29 first half shots, including 4-10 threes. The Tigers hit 12-19 first half free throws while Tennessee Tech made 3-5.

Freshman Price led the Tigers in scoring at halftime with 12 points while Denson added 10 and Shaquille Johnson scored seven.

Technical Issues: Barbee pulled Price from the game in the first half after he got a technical foul for trash talking to the Tennessee Tech bench after making his third three-pointer. Barbee said it was a sign of lack of maturity. Price said he was responding to trash talking from the Golden Eagles, but noted he learned a lesson.

Price Is Right: Barbee also some praise for Price on his streak of 11 straight made threes. "It is not a surprise. He is shooting that way in practice and he works on it. Guys who don't practice that way, aren't making shots, because they aren't locked in. Jordan Price has been."

However, Barbee still had something to fuss about with the freshman, noting that the game video will show that the guard missed opportunities to get the possession on 50-50 balls during the game."

Up Next: The Tigers will play their final game prior to a week-long Christmas break when they take on Winthrop at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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