Denson Sparks Tigers to Win At Texas A&M

The Auburn basketball Tigers defeated Texas A&M 69-64 to close the regular season.

College Station, Tex.--Senior guard Chris Denson broke out of his two-game slump and led the Auburn Tigers to a 69-64 SEC basketball victory at Texas A&M?on Saturday.

After scoring just six points and three points, respectively, in his previous two outings, Denson scored 19 points vs. the Aggies while adding six rebounds and five assists with no turnovers.

"The last two games I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself to be leading the SEC (in scoring)," said Denson, who hit 6-13 field goals including 2-4 treys. "I put a lot of pressure on myself trying to force shots to get that scoring title."

"I met with Coach after the last two games and he just told me to relax and play my game, and that is what I did today," Denson said. "I just played free today and we got the ‘W' today."

Junior guard K.T. Harrell scored 20 points for the Tigers while senior center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum matched his career points high with 12 while pulling in eight rebounds.

Senior forward Allen Payne led the Tigers in rebounds with seven while adding eight points.

Jamal Jones led the Aggies with 24 points, but the Auburn defense kept him under control late in the game as the Tigers rallied for the victory.

The Tigers will return to action Wednesday as the 12th seed in the SEC Tournament vs. 13th seed South Carolina, a team Auburn has beaten twice this year. Tipoff for the game is set for 6 p.m. CDT at the Georgia Dome.

Denson put the Tigers ahead for good with a layup at the 3:06 mark moving AU on top 61-60. The Tigers led by three when the lefty guard scored on another layup with 1:46 to play.

After a pair of free throws by Jones with 1:25 cut the lead to one point, Denson made a good pass to Harrell for a layup putting the Tigers ahead 65-62 with 1:08 to play.

After a defensive stop by the Tigers, Harrell hit both ends of a one-and-one with 27.7 seconds remaining to put Auburn up 67-62.

Payne then iced the victory by making both ends of a one-and-one with 13.4 seconds left to make the score 69-62.

"It was a good bounce-back for the guys," Coach Tony Barbee said. "We had two rough ones the last two games.

"We kind of refocused on what is important and that is playing for each other, thinking about the little things that win the games--the defense, the rebounding, the loose balls, all of those things," Barbee said. "I think we won all of those battles today and that was the key to the game."

Barbee said the Tigers came through defensively when the game was on the line. "The best thing about it was when we needed to get stops we got those stops."

Auburn finished the regular season with a 14-15 overall mark and 6-12 in the league while Texas A&M fell to 17-14 overall and 8-10 in the SEC.

Auburn shot 45.1 percent from the field and hit 7-18 threes and 16-20 free throws.

The Aggies shot 44 percent from the field while making 7-18 threes. They made 12-15 free throws and turned the ball over nine times, the same number of turnovers Auburn made.

Stat of the Game: Auburn out-rebounded the Aggies 35-25.

Worth Noting, Part 1: Texas A&M had lost just two home games all season prior to Auburn winning on Saturday.

Worth Noting, Part 2: Barbee had praise for Dixon-Tatum who came up with a key block and rebound in the closing minute when the game was still in doubt.

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