Not So Sweet 16

An inept first half performance by Auburn was impossible to overcome Wednesday night in Fayetteville as Arkansas put the Tigers in the basement of the SEC West.

Fayetteville, Ark.--It wasn't a party or even a gathering the Auburn Tigers enjoyed Wednesday night as the Arkansas Razorbacks likely put an end to Auburn's postseason hopes for this season with a 74-52 bombing of the Tigers in Bud Walton Arena.

The Tigers couldn't solve the Hogs' zone in the first half as they scored just 16 points and never recovered on the way to a crushing road loss. Auburn hasn't won a road game since Feb. 22, 2003 when they won at Ole Miss.

"We're going to have to focus in on what happened tonight against that zone and not turn the ball over the way we did," Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis said. "A lot of that is on the perimeter. The guys had a great game Saturday, but I thought our perimeter struggled. We never got anything going inside or out.

"You have to focus in on what teams are doing," Ellis adds. "It's a zone that gives you passing lanes and you have to ball fake. You have to get the ball inside and if you don't have a pass inside you have to penetrate. I didn't think we did any of that with authority. When Arkansas got some momentum going they started hopping and we starting feeling sorry for ourselves. I did a very poor job of getting our team to rectify the situation."

Dwayne Curtis

In a first half better served to be used as a clinic for Arkansas' defensive camp next season the Hogs shut down the Auburn offense to the tune of just 16 points. Making that even worse was 16 turnovers by the Tigers to go along with 16 missed shots and 16 rebounds, two less than the Hogs. The numbers were an eery reminder of how long and painful the road can be when a team is not playing up to its capabilities. That perfectly sums up the Auburn Tigers at this time.

After getting off to a good start, taking a four-point lead behind the strong play of freshman forward Dwayne Curtis. In his first career start Curtis scored three early points as the Tigers jumped out to a quick lead. The score moved to 8-4 Tigers when Quinnel Brown drained a three-pointer with 15 minutes remaining. From that point forward it would be all Hogs.

Scoring from everywhere imaginable while Auburn turned the ball over at just about every turn, the Hogs scored 17-straight points over the next 8:08 before Curtis put an end to the Arkansas run with a put-back in the lane. The Hogs didn't let up after that though as they scored the next nine points before Marco Killingsworth scored on a jumper with 3:36 remaining. Auburn would score just one more basket the rest of the way as Brown drained his second three-pointer of the half to make it 36-16 Hogs at intermission.

As bad as the score looked at the break the stats looked even worse. Auburn made just 27.3 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and just 2-12 from three-point range. Throw in just 2-6 from the line and you have a terrible shooting night and the makings of a blowout.

The second half was a much better 20 minutes of basketball for the Tigers, but already down by 20 points there wasn't much hope for a comeback on a cold, wintry night in Fayetteville. Early on it looked as if the Hogs would blow open the game as they built a 51-28 lead behind the shooting of Michael Jones from the perimeter. The owner of just five three-point field goals on the season, Jones had five against the Tigers Wednesday night as his 17 points paced all scorers.

Down and out the Tigers turned to Curtis and the freshman responded. Scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds, both of which led Auburn, he was the only bright spot in a very dim night for Auburn as they trimmed the lead back to 19 in the second half, but that's as close as they would come.

After turning the ball over 16 times in the first half, the Tigers only had two miscues in the second half. By that time it was too little too late for Auburn as the Hogs cruised to a 74-52 victory. The loss drops Auburn to 11-8 overall and 2-6 in SEC play while Arkansas moves to 11-8 and 3-5 in conference play.

The Tigers return to action Saturday at 3 p.m. when they play the Georgia Bulldogs at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

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