Tigers Win Again In Puerto Rico

Carolina, Puerto Rico--The Auburn basketball team overcame foul trouble and an early 11-point deficit to beat the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 79-75 in game two of the San Juan Shootout basketball tournament.

The game saw seven lead changes and was tied five times. With 34 seconds remaining Auburn led 75-74 before true freshman Toney Douglas stepped up and put the game out of reach.

Doulas knocked down his seventh and eighth free throws of the game to give the Tigers a three-point lead. The Raiders came down the court with a chance to tie the game with a three, but Douglas stole a pass and raced down the court for a lay-up to give Auburn a four-point lead at 79-75 with 16 seconds remaining.

Douglas finished with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"I was guarding the shooter, Mike Dean, so Coach said not to help," Douglas said. "I faked like I was going to help and cover, and I stole it and went down there and stole a layup. I bounced back in the second half. Coach always said to work on defense, and my offense will come to me, and that is what I did."

Auburn improved to 8-3 on the season and used only seven players in the win. After scoring only seven points in Monday's win over Delaware, point guard Ian Young got back on pace knocking down 5-9 three pointers and finishing with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of action.

Another Tiger who stepped up was freshman forward Daniel Hayles. Auburn trailed 21-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, but nine quick points by Hayles gave the Tigers a 28-26 lead. Despite playing through foul trouble he scored a career high 17 points while adding four rebounds and three assists.

Also in foul trouble for Auburn were guard Nathan Watson, forward Quinnel Brown and guard Frank Tolbert. Watson fouled out with less than a minute remaining and Brown fouled out with more than two minutes remaining. Tolbert picked up his fourth foul at 15:40 in the second half, but avoided his fifth and the disqualification.

Watson scored 12 points, Brown scored 10 points, Tolbert scored two points and guard Brett Howell added three points.

"We have had a lot of close games already," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "I thought our kids made the plays at the end. Toney made a big steal and the stickback. We overcame a couple of things I thought that didn't go for us.

"With Quinnel Brown, we have a set play against a little guard underneath the basket (with Auburn leading 73-67), and he's called for an offensive foul. They come down and make a three. That is a five-or-six point play right there. If we can make that play and get the benefit of the doubt, maybe the game is over with two minutes to go."

MTSU dropped to 6-3 and also had five scorers in double figures, led by center Steve Thomas with 17 points and five boards. Forward Michael Cuffee scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

"Thomas hurt us early, and they are physical and strong," Lebo said. "They have four SEC players, and they may have more than we have. We battled and came back, and the kids continue to defy logical things. I thought we competed through a lot of adversity with the foul problems that we had. We had four guys with four fouls during the game, and Quinnel and Nathan both fouled out. We made some plays at the end of the game to help us win."

The Blue Raiders dominated inside with a 30-20 margin on points in the paint, a 12-4 margin on second-chance points and outrebounded Auburn 38-31. However, MTSU shot poorly from the three-point line and the foul line. The Blue Raiders made 17-27 free throws for 63 percent while Auburn shot 19-24 for 79.2 percent. MTSU made 5-18 three pointers for 27.8 percent and Auburn hit 10-23 for 43.5 percent.

Auburn's final game of the San Juan Shootout is Wednesday at 11 a.m. CST against Toledo.

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