UNCA Ambushed In Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood

Auburn, Ala.--With another strong effort on defense plus and an impressive performance by freshman <b>Brandon Robinson</b>, the Auburn Tigers took away the suspense early as they cruised to their third straight victory with a 83-38 basketball decision over UNC-Asheville on Thursday night.

Auburn held the Bulldogs to 22.7 percent first half shooting and just 16 points as they more than doubled up the visitors by halftime with a 22-point edge. For the game, UNCA hit just 24.1 percent of its shots and the Tigers forced 21 turnovers. It was the lowest point total in UNCA's 16 years as a Division I program.

"We played tremendous defensively and our offense was just as good," AU coach Cliff Ellis said. The 38 points allowed was the second lowest in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, trailing the 35 Tennessee scored in an eight-point loss to Auburn in 1997.

Robinson, a 6-7 forward, played strong on defense and was the star on offense. When he went to the bench with 7:52 to play, Auburn led 60-24. With 21 points, the freshman had almost single-handedly matched the Bulldogs' total at that point. He hit 8-13 field goals, was 4-4 at the free throw line, added six rebounds and played 21 minutes without a turnover.

"I feel a lot more comfortable out there than I did at the start of the season," Robinson said. "I feel like I am more than ready for the SEC season."

Robinson also noted his team is playing with more poise and confidence. "We are playing with better fundamentals on defense and we are learning to trust each other out there on the court."

The freshman added that he believes the Tigers have made major strides on both defense and offense since opening night. The numbers showed a solid all-around performance as his team hit 47.2 percent of its shots, outrebounded the Bulldogs 47-30, had 13 steals and seven fewer turnovers.

Dwayne Mitchell with the jam.

Auburn improved its record to 7-3 and is now off until a Dec. 29 home game vs. Southern Miss. That will be the final tune-up before conference play starts on Jan. 5th when the Arkansas Razorbacks roll into town.

UNC-Asheville, which is more respected for its strong liberal arts academic program, is not exactly a Division I sports powerhouse. The Bulldogs, who were 15-13 last year and 9-5 for third place in the Big South Conference, slipped to 1-10 on the season with eight of those appearances on the road. Earlier on its current road trip, UNCA fell 92-54 to North Carolina State and 76-56 to Michigan State. UNCA returns to action Dec. 30 vs. in-state rival Appalachian State.

The visit to Auburn and young Mr. Robinson's neighborhood was not exactly an early Christmas present for UNCA coach Eddie Biedenbach, who said that he expected his team to be much more competitive against a young Auburn team. "Auburn is a team with a lot of talent and is waiting to break out," Biedenbach said. "If someone gives them an advantage, they will exploded. After the slow start we just didn't perform well the rest of the night."

After the slow start, we just didn't perform well the rest of the night.

Another Auburn freshman forward, 6-7 Marco Killingsworth, also played well. He was 8-11 from the field for 17 points and he had eight rebounds to tie freshman guard Dwayne Mitchell for team-high honors. Nobody else scored in double figures. Derrick Bird and Adam Harrington each scored nine for the Tigers.

Bryan McCullough was the high point man for UNCA with 10 points as he hit four of eight shots.

Ellis said he thought Robinson and Killingsworth were very good. "That was Killingsworth's best game," he noted.

The Auburn coach said the staff knew there would be growing pains by playing newcomers extensively, but stayed the course through an uneven start. "This team has developed an excellent team chemistry," Ellis added.

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