Late Free Throws Lift Rutgers Past AU

Piscataway, N.J--Jerome Coleman hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights defeated the Auburn Tigers 57-56 Saturday night. Auburn falls to 2-1 on the season while Rutgers improves to 2-2 following the win in its first home game of the season.

Trailing 54-48 with under two minutes left in the game, Auburn looked to be in dire straits as things just didn't seem to be clicking for the young team. The Tigers got a little spark on the offensive end as Brandon Robinson took a feed from Daniels and jammed it home for a dunk to cut the lead to four with just over one minute left. Defense would take over from that point for the Tigers as junior guard Adam Harrington had back-to-back steals in the Rutgers backcourt to bring Auburn all the way back.

Jerome Coleman of Rutgers hit the winning field goal.

Harrington completed the first steal himself with a laup that made the score 54-53 Rutgers. Calling a time out with the second as he was falling out of bounds, Harrington gave Auburn its first chance to take a lead in the second half.

With possession of the ball and 45 seconds remaining, Auburn needed to get off a good shot but just like so many times before Saturday night, a turnover haunted the team. This time a Daniels' travel kept the Tigers from getting a shot for the lead. Following a Mike Sherrod free throw that gave Rutgers a two-point lead with 21.5 seconds left , Auburn called a timeout to set-up a possible game-winning play. Daniels took the in-bounds pass and instead of driving to the basket as expected, he took the open jumper from the top of the key and drained it to give the Tigers the brief lead.

Rutgers pushed the ball for the final shot and almost turned it over in the front court before they were able to retrieve it and call a timeout with just 2.5 seconds left. Putting the ball in play, Rutgers was forced to lob the ball into play and in his haste to break up the pass, junior Derrick Bird undercut Coleman sending him to the floor and to the line for the game-winners.

Robinson led the way for the Tigers with 14 points on 6-9 shooting while also contributing seven rebounds in just 29 minutes. Daniels added 13 and eight rebounds. Kyle Davis was next with seven points and eight rebounds with Marco Killingsworth chipping in six points. Coleman scored 19 big points to lead the Scarlet Knights while Rashod Kent added 10 and eight rebounds.

Auburn shot just 37.5 percent from the floor for the game, made just 10 of 20 free throws and committed 25 turnovers. Rutgers was held to 30.8 percent shooting but had six less turnovers giving the Scarlet Knights the extra possessions they needed to come away with the win.

The game started out all Auburn as the Tigers jumped to a quick 11-4 lead behind the play of Daniels from the wing. The Scarlet Knights would begin to chip away at the lead thanks to a stingy pressing defense that caused the inexperienced Auburn ball handlers problems. Forcing 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, Rutgers was able to keep the game in its favor for the most part and took their first lead at 17-16. Auburn would come back to take a five-point lead when Daniels and Mitchell had back-to-back follow-up dunks to give the Tigers a surge of energy.

Turnovers would doom Auburn the rest of the way as Rutgers took a 31-29 lead into the break by outscoring the Tigers 8-0 to close the half.

The Tigers return to action Tuesday night when they play host to McNeese State inside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Box Score

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