Scoring Drought, Treys Take Down the Tigers

Vandy overcame a slow start and held off Auburn for an SEC hoops victory on Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers were not able to recover from a lengthy scoring drought as Auburn lost for the seventh consecutive time, dropping a 62-55 SEC basketball game to visiting Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

The Tigers missed 17 consecutive field goals during a stretch that covered 12 minutes and 49 seconds between baskets.

Chris Denson scored on a dunk at the 9:52 mark putting the Tigers on top 16-11. His next basket came with 16:13 in the second half to cut Vandy's lead to 31-19.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee said the Tigers' problem on Saturday night was a lack of confidence shooting the basketball. He said his team got plenty of good looks vs. the Commodores.

"I saw a lot of wide open shots," Barbee said. "I saw a lot of point blank shots at the rim. I saw a lot of wide open threes."

Barbee said he liked his team's overall performance on defense and intensity, but said shooting around 35 percent overall and under 17 percent on threes is a recipe for losing a basketball game.

"I thught we were engaged," Barbee said. "I thought we were persistent defensively."

Other than the scoring drought the big factor in the game was three-point shooting. Vandy made 10 treys while Auburn finished the night with just three.

The Tigers fell to 9-20 for the season and 3-13 in the league. Vandy, which swept the season series, improved its record to 13-15 overall and 7-9 in the league.

In something of a surprise for the struggling Tigers, they actually outshot their opponent for the game. Auburn made just 20-56 field goals (35.7 percent), but that was better than Vandy's 16-49 (32.7 percent).

Vandy also enjoyed an edge in free throws made. The Commodores hit just 20-31, but made their shots in the closing minutes to hold off an Auburn comeback attempt. Auburn hit 12-19 at the foul line.

Denson was the only Auburn player to score in double figures with 16 points. He hit 5-12 field goals and 5-7 free throws.

Josh Wallace scored eight points while Frankie Sullivan and Jordan Price added seven apiece.

Kedren Johnson made just 2-11 field goals, but led the Commodores in scoring with 16 points after making 10-15 free throws. Kevin Bright added 14 points and Josh Henderson scored 11.

The Commodores held a 39-36 rebounding advantage. Auburn had eight turnovers, one less than the visitors.

"We're very happy to get a very ugly road win," Vandy coach Kevin Stallings said. "I don't know if both teams played really good on defense or if both teams had really bad offense.

"I certainly don't want to speak for their side, but it didn't feel like either side played very well tonight for me."

Speaking for Auburn's side, Wallace said the loss was "very frustrating" for the Tigers. "I mean, I don't even think words can explain, but you can't dwell on it," he said. "We had that stretch in the first half. We missed shots and we did well on the defensive end holding them to around 30 percent shooting. We just have to make shots."

Starting Lineup: Allen Payne, Rob Chubb, Shaquille Johnson, Wallace and Sullivan started for the Tigers.

Halftime Numbers: Auburn made 7-27 field goals for 25.9 percent in the opening period while Vandy hit 33.3 percent (8-24). The Commodores were 5-14 on threes while the Tigers made 1-9. Vandy hit 5-12 free throws while Auburn was 2-4.

The Commodores led in rebounding at the break 23-17 and turned the ball over five times, one more than the Tigers.

Auburn's leading scorers at the half were Chris Denson and Josh Wallace with four points apiece.

Worth Noting: Auburn outscored the Commodores 30-10 in points in the paint and 9-4 in points off of turnovers.

Celebrity Guest: Former Auburn three-sport star Bo Jackson participated in the spell out Auburn cheer on Saturday night.

Worth Noting, Part 2: The Tigers will have to play on day one of the SEC Tournament. Barbee said the goal this week was avoid that happening. With that no longer a possibility, Barbee was asked what the team's goal is now. "Beating Tennessee," he said.

More From Barbee: Auburn's head coach had these comments on his team's offensive struggles.

"You have to have confidence as a player. The game is about confidence. It makes the difference between All-Americans and the average Joe--it's your level of confidence. You have to believe that you are the baddest guy walking on that floor, not out of arrogance, but out of your hard work.

"We have got guys who are working hard, but then when you step on that floor you have got to believe. You have got to have that confidence. When they (Vandy) shot the ball they looked like guys who had confidence shooting the ball. We had some guys who played tentative offensively.

"You guys have seen me coach for a while now and there's not much I say offensively unless I see a guy being selfish, which we don't have many guys being selfish. It is effort, defense, toughness that I comment on because I don't want these guys to play tight offensively.

"I get on them about defense and effort, and toughness and grittiness. It's nothing to do with offense."

Up Next: The Tigers' final home game of the season is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday as Tennessee visits the Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on CSS.

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