Rebels Rebound To Outlast Tigers In Overtime

Auburn, Ala.--UNLV edged Auburn in overtime 91-87 by outrebounding the Tigers by a seldom-seen 63-35 margin and outscoring the Tigers 54-34 on points in the paint and 35-10 on second-chance points.

The Rebels, who improved to 3-3 on the year, were led inside by junior forward Louis Amundson with 22 points and 22 rebounds. Amundson, at 6-9 and 230 pounds, came into the contest averaging 9.2 points and 6.8 boards.

"Anytime you get 22 and 22, that's pretty good," said UNLV coach Lon Kruger. "I thought with the size advantage inside, Louis did a good job of taking advantage of that especially on the offensive boards. He's big, quick and explosive. He obviously had a terrific game."

The last time an Auburn opponent had 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game was Shaquille O'Neal's 30-point, 20-rebound performance on Feb. 22, 1992.

"He's pretty tough on the glass," said Auburn center/forward Quinnel Brown. "He's big. We're all little and it's kind of easy for them to push us under the rim. They outweigh us by 60 or 70 pounds. We battled but sometimes we're just too small."

Ten of Amundson's 22 rebounds came off the offensive glass. As a team the Rebels grabbed 28 offensive boards compared to 12 for Auburn.

"I thought our kids battled hard today, but we just couldn't find a way to keep them off the glass," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "Twenty-eight offensive rebounds is a lot. The big kid inside (Amundson) is awfully good. He's athletic at 6-9."

The loss dropped Auburn to 6-3 on the year.

Frank Tolbert works for rebounding position on Sunday vs. the Rebels prior to fouling out.

After a back and forth first half which saw eight ties and 14 lead changes, the Tigers went to the locker room with a 41-40 edge. Auburn's lead grew to 11 after a Toney Douglas steal and lay-up with under 10 minutes remaining at 66-55.

In Auburn's previous two losses to Virginia and Wofford, the Tigers struggled shooting down the stretch after leading for much of the game. The same thing happened to the Tigers Sunday against the Runnin' Rebels.

"We just didn't put the ball in the basket at the end when we needed to," Lebo said. "In the last nine minutes I thought we struggled to just put the ball in the basket. (UNLV point guard Jerel) Blassingame, in the second half, made some key shots for them."

Blassingame finished with 20 points, six assists and four rebounds for the Rebels. Sixteen of his points came in the second half and overtime.

UNLV had a 75-72 lead with 22 seconds remaining, but a missed free throw by the Rebels' Odartey Blankson gave the Tigers one more chance. Auburn's Ian Young drove to the basket and then found Brett Howell in the corner, and Howell knocked down a clutch three-pointer to tie the game with 10.4 seconds remaining.

"I felt it gave us a chance," Howell said. "It's one shot. It happened at the end and it tied it up. Unfortunately, we wouldn't have been in that situation if not for foul trouble on some of our big guys who fouled out early. They could have helped us out on the boards and we could have won it in regulation."

Earlier in the game, Auburn's Daniel Hayles and Frank Tolbert, two of the Tigers' better rebounders and inside defenders, fouled out. Hayles finished with six points and Tolbert finished with two points.

Blassingame hit a three at the beginning of overtime and the Rebels never trailed in the extra period.

"I thought we had some good defensive stops there in the second half to get back into the game," Kruger said. "We were able to hang on and win in overtime. It was a game that could have gone either way. We got a bucket early in overtime and kind of played by that margin.

"It was a game of streaks," he added. "I really like Auburn's club and what Jeff has done. They play with great conviction and they really have a lot of confidence in one other. They move the ball and themselves. They're fun to watch and they're tough to play against."

Overshadowed by Amundson, UNLV's Blankson had his third double-double of the year with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Young led the Tigers in scoring with 25 points. He also added five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot which sent the game into overtime. Auburn's leading scorer on the year, Toney Douglas, had 21 points and six rebounds.

Brown nearly had his second consecutive double-double with 14 points and nine boards. Nathan Watson filled up the box score with 16 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and one blocked shot.

Auburn will be heading south to San Juan, Puerto Rico for three games against Delaware, Middle Tennessee State and Toledo from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22. All game times are scheduled for 11 a.m. CST. The Tigers next home game will be against Belmont on Dec. 30 at 8 a.m.

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