Hogs Smother Tigers For Easy Victory

The Auburn Tigers played toe-to-toe with Arkansas for the first 15 minutes of Saturday's game, but a lack of depth and size against cost the Tigers.

Fayetteville, Ark.–-Arkansas used a suffocating defense and limitless depth to bury the Auburn Tigers Saturday in Bud Walton Arena as five Hog players finished in double-figures on the way to an easy 95-59 victory. Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said the day was a tough one for his team as they couldn't sustain a good early start and make it last against a deep Arkansas club.

"I thought we really did a good job for about 17 minutes in the game," Lebo said. "We had good looks and the ball went in the basket for us. Defensively, I thought we did some good things against them and we battled. With about three or four minutes to go is when they took the lead and we just couldn't recover. We went out in the second half and had a couple of bad turnovers. All of the sudden a 12 point game is now 16 and they were off to the races.

"They are long and athletic and big and we can't simulate that," Lebo added. "They got their hands in the passing lanes that we're not used to seeing in practice. We had some bad turnovers too where they got lay-ups at the other end. They went inside on us, which everyone is going to do, and pounded us. It's just hard because we don't have any answers in there really. We do the best we can in there and we get worn out and we had foul problems today. That has been our story this year. We're okay for about 15 or 17 minutes or a half and then we just wear out and we don't have the answers inside when people pound it inside on us."

Things got off to a good start for the Tigers on the road as both Nathan Watson and Ian Young were hot from behind the arc. Despite missing their first two from outside, both Watson and Young began to fire away and Auburn stayed with the Razorbacks on their home court. Arkansas got off to an early start as the Hogs went up 6-0 before a Watson three-pointer put the Tigers on the board just over two minutes into the game. Following an Arkansas free throw Watson again bombed a three to cut the lead to just one.

Nathan Watson was Auburn's most solid contributor on Saturday.

The two teams would go back and forth for much of the first half with Watson carrying the load for the Tigers. One of the reasons for his added offensive output was the lack of success for freshman Toney Douglas. The SEC's leading scorer, Douglas failed to score in the first half as the Razorbacks put the clamps on him and made other Tigers beat them. For a while it looked like that could happen as everyone picked up the slack and pushed the Hogs to the limit.

Auburn took the lead eight minutes into the game and kept it for a while thanks to Watson and Young. Leading just 18-17 after a Darian Townes basket for Arkansas, Watson took the ball the length of the court and made an acrobatic lay-up while also getting fouled. Following the free throw the Tigers led 21-17. The Razorbacks cut into the lead and brought it back even just moments later and actually took a three-point lead at 31-28 when Olu Famutimi scored an easy basket inside against Auburn's depleted front line. Freshman Frank Tolbert would answer on Auburn's next possession with a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 31. From that moment on it was all Arkansas.

The Razorbacks scored the next six points of the game before two Young free throws got Auburn off the mat. It was only momentary though as Stan Heath's club continued to pound the Tigers with a barrage of talented players off the bench that would eventually wear out Auburn. By the time the half would end Arkansas held a 45-33 advantage as the Tigers scored just two points the final six minutes of the first half to virtually end any hope of stealing a win on the road.

Arkansas continued to pour it on to start the second half as it scored the first six points coming out of the break, including dunks by Ronnie Brewer and Famutimi that sent the huge crowd at Bud Walton Arena into a frenzy. Auburn could never get back into the game after that despite strong efforts from Quinnel Brown, Daniel Hayles and little-used Moses Edun in the paint. With Hayles in early foul trouble, Edun played well, but just couldn't stay out of foul trouble himself because of his lack of size.

Building the lead to a comfortable margin early in the second half, the Razorbacks went to the bench early and often as they continued to pour it on the outmanned Tigers. In a sign of how the day went it took almost 26 minutes for Douglas to get on the board with a lay-up. In the end it was all Arkansas as the Tigers had their second disappointing second half away from home in a blowout loss to the Hogs. Scoring on seemingly every possession in the second half, shooting 64 percent from the field, Arkansas won going away 95-59. In the final 26 minutes of the game Auburn was outscored 64-28 by a team that put it all together with some help by turnover problems by the Tigers.

"We really needed this game," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "It was probably a must-game for us today. I am proud of the guys. They really responded. They came out with great intensity. They played hard out there on the court, played together and did a lot of things well. I think we are going to start to get a lot of momentum going."

The Arkansas coach noted that the game plan to attack Auburn inside worked well even though the visitors' good shooting early in the game allowed the Tigers to lead in parts of the first half.

"Obviously, Auburn doesn't have the size and we had to take advantage of that by going inside immediately," Heath said. "When they started double-teaming the post we made some great passes out of the double-teams."

Heath also went to his substitutes early to take advantage of his depth advantage. "We had great energy off the bench," he said. "Our team needed a good game like this to get our confidence back. Our team has good talent. I think we have the ability to go on a run this season and I think this could be the start of it.

For the game Auburn turned the ball over 18 times, which led to 27 Arkansas points. In contrast the Hogs turned it over just eight times for the game. Young led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points, but was just 5-19 from the field. Watson was the only other Tiger in double figures and Douglas finished with just eight. Arkansas had five players in double-figures, led by Brewer's 23 points. Auburn was outscored 40-18 in the paint as Arkansas shot 54 percent from the field for the game compared to just 35 percent for the Tigers.

Box Score

The loss drops Auburn to 9-8 overall, 0-4 in SEC play. Arkansas improves to 14-5, 2-4 in league play. The Tigers are in action again on Wednesday night when they host number 22 Alabama at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.


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