In a game when their teammates had trouble shooting the basketball, Harrington drilled six of 12 field goals, including five of nine from behind the three-point arc. As a team, USM was just three of 18 on treys. Harrington also made seven of eight foul shots.
Bird was 5-12 from the field, hit three of eight three-pointers and made seven-of-nine foul shots.
"I haven't been looking for my shot this season," Harrington said. "I thought it has been important to work on other parts of my game and let our young players gain some confidence offensively as we get ready for SEC play."
Harrington nails a foul shot vs. the Golden Eagles.
SEC play is now dead ahead. The next game is the league opener at home on Saturday, Jan. 5th vs. the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks.
Harrington noted that he has studied the league schedule and said he believes the Tigers have a chance to get off to a strong start in league play. "I think we are definitely getting better as a team," said Harrington, who added, "Offensively, I have confidence in my ability to score."
Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said that he was pleased with the victory over the Golden Eagles, but added that his team has plenty of work to do. "We're a long way from where we need to be."
In game 11, Auburn's shooting was bad in the first half and worse after that. The Tigers made just 36.7 percent of their field goals in the first 20 minutes, but held a comfortable 30-20 lead at the break thanks to their usual stifling defensive work. "At halftime, we talked about needing to pick it up offensively and put those guys away," Harrington said.
However, that didn't happen as the Tigers hit just 29.2 percent of their fields after halftime to finish at 33.3 percent for the game. The Tigers were able to overcome that problem by outrebounding USM 39-33 and making six more three-pointers than the visitors.
"We let Harrington get too many looks on threes," said USM coach James Green, who picked up a technical foul in the second half for overly aggressive lobbying the officials. "We got ourselves in a hole in the first half that was difficult to overcome. We missed too many free throws and we didn't rebound well enough."
One thing Green and Golden Eagles did do well was play defense. Normally a man-to-man team, USM played a 1-3-1 trap zone almost exclusively. Auburn's Ellis admits that caught his team by surprise and it was something they spent little time practicing for this week.
"It caused us some problems, but Coach Ellis made some adjustments that were effective for us," said Bird, who led the Tigers in rebounds with seven from his guard spot.
Other than Bird and Harrington, nobody scored in double figures for the Tigers. The third leading scorer, freshman forward Brandon Robinson, was a spectator the second half. He scored six points and had just one rebound. His work on the boards, or lack of production there, put him on the bench, Ellis said. "He is playing forward and at halftime he didn't have any rebounds," the coach explained.
With Robinson on the bench, the Tigers used a three-guard lineup much of the second half. At times, all three point guards--Marquis Daniels, Lincoln Glass and Dwayne Mitchell were on the floor together.
With Kyle Davis slowed by the flu, Mack McGadney started at center. He played 13 minutes and scored just two points with three rebounds. Davis was in for 20 minutes and did not score although he did have six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Another inside player, sophomore Abdou Diame, was on the bench. Ellis has allowed the 6-9 forward to rejoin the team after he was a no-show for the Marshall game back on Dec. 15th. Diame had talked of transferring to another college, however, it looks like he will remain with the Tigers even though Ellis did not give a specific date for Diame's return to game action.
USM got 12 points apiece from forwards Elvin Mims and Clement Carter. Mims, the team's leading scorer with an 18.8 averaged, admitted that Auburn's defense caused him problems as he hit just 3-13 shots. "They were making me put the ball on the floor with the way they played," he said.
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