Dominating The Boards Leads Tigers To Victory

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn basketball players say that Coach Cliff Ellis preaches the importance of controlling the boards when it comes to winning or losing basketball games.

In Auburn's 80-53 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday, Auburn's rebounding dominance was so significant the Tigers' big guys figuratively whomped the Rebels on the side of the head with pressure-treated two-by-fours.

"It is the strength of our team and we have to have it," said Ellis, whose squad won the battle of the boards 40-22.

The Tigers held a dominating 22-7 rebounding edge at halftime. "We have to get the job done," Ellis said. "We have to go knock every night. Ole Miss, like Vanderbilt, will make you play physical. We won the rebounding war and I expect it every night. I will be disappointed if we don't.

"With Brandon (junior forward Brandon Robinson), Kyle (senior center Kyle Davis) and Marco (junior forward Marco Killingsworth) on the front line, they are three and four-year players," Ellis noted. "It just has to happen. It needs to be our advantage. If they can get some of our inexperience and we have a few more turnovers and we don't make a shot, we can make for it. We can make up for it on the offensive and defensive ends."

Marco Killingsworth takes a shot in traffic vs. the Rebels.

Killingsworth led the way for the winners with a double-double as he scored 16 points on five of six shooting to go with 10 rebounds in a team-high 27 minutes on the floor.

Robinson, rallying from an ankle sprain suffered at Vandy last Wednesday, put on a good show with 14 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

Davis, continuing to flex his improved offensive muscle, scored 11 points on four of six field goal shooting and added seven rebounds.

"That was very important for this game," Davis said when asked about the rebounding edge. "Ole Miss has always been a physical team." The senior said the goal was to get one rebound for every three minutes of playing time. He came close with his seven rebounds in 25 minutes on the court.

Brandon Robinson fought off an ankle injury and had a big game for the Tigers.

Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said there were plenty of reasons his team was whipped by the Tigers, but rebounding was certainly a major one. "Everything was the issue today," said Barnes, who added, "I think early on their offensive rebounding is what got them off to a good start. With us playing bad and them taking shots and going and getting the offensive rebounds, it gave them an opportunity to build a big lead on us."

Basketball Notes: Ellis went to the bench early and often. Eleven Tigers saw action in the first 13 minutes of the game. "I wanted some of our inexperienced players to get some confidence," he noted. "I really thought that Ian Young, Ronny LeMelle, Quinnel Brown and Dwayne Curtis in particular--all new guys--I thought they played very well."

In addition to Curtis, Brown and LeMelle off the bench, Ellis used Lewis Monroe, Rodney Tucker and Troy Gaines in the first half as the Tigers built a 39-22 margin. All 15 Tigers dressed for the game saw playing time as Auburn improved its SEC record to 1-1 and its overall record to 10-3 while Ole Miss slipped to 0-2 in the SEC and 8-5 overall...Justin Reed, a former Auburn verbal commitment from Jackson, Miss., led all scorers with 20 points. The 6-8 senior forward scored 20 points and led his team in rebounds with six. Reed said his team didn't come focused to play on Saturday. "You see what happens when you don't come focused," he noted...Twelve different Tigers scored in the game in which Auburn led by as many as 34 points.

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