Tigers Turnover Season Series To Rebels With Loss

Auburn turned the ball over 20 times in a loss to Ole Miss Wednesday night.

Oxford, Miss.–-Ole Miss used the physical presence of Tommie Eddie and the long-range marksmanship of Justin Johnson to break open a close game in the second half Wednesday night and take a 70-55 victory over the Auburn Tigers at Tad Smith Coliseum. Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said that his team just couldn't get over the hump against a physical Rebel team and in a place that is always tough to win.

"They shot the ball well in the first half," Lebo said. "Sometimes you have to pick your poison with our team whether you're going to double inside or let them shoot some shots from the perimeter. We obviously had some problems in the second half with Eddie inside. We didn't take care of the basketball. We start the game off with a steal of the tip and have a wide open layup and miss it, that was kind of the first half in a nutshell right there.

"Our kids put ourselves in a position in the second half where we cut it, we just couldn't make the plays to get the lead. They are all about the same over here. This is about my fourth or fifth time over here and you know what you're going to get. You can explain it to the kids and you know exactly what's going to happen. It's not what they do, but how they do it. It's not a tricky thing. They're awfully good here and they really defend you."

Nathan Watson scored 14 points Wednesday night and was the only Tiger besides Toney Douglas to score in double figures.

The first half wasn't pretty for the Tigers on the road against the Rebels as they couldn't seem to get anything going on either end early. While Ole Miss was on fire from the perimeter, Auburn had trouble holding onto the ball and gave away several early opportunities to stay in the game. Ole Miss jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead just two minutes into the game with only a Frank Tolbert free throw to show for Auburn. Following an Ian Young basket the Rebels hit the first of their nine first-half three pointers to take a 10-3 lead.

Toney Douglas got on the board with a basket in the lane with 16:16 remaining to cut the lead down to five, but another three pointer by Justin Johnson pushed the lead to eight. That would be the trend the rest of the half as Ole Miss bombed threes from the perimeter and Auburn struggled to score. The Tigers had just 11 points with inside eight minutes left in the half until a Nathan Watson three-point basket cut the lead to 24-11. Auburn ran off the next four points as well with baskets by Tolbert and Quinnel Brown, but Ole Miss was too tough from the outside as yet another Johnson three pushed the lead back to 12 with 4:40 left. The teams traded baskets the rest of the way in the half as three more threes by the Rebels offset Auburn's scoring to give Ole Miss a 36-23 lead at intermission. The Rebels shot 9-18 from outside the arc in the first half while Auburn shot just 39 percent from the field overall. The difference in the half was 12 Auburn turnovers compared to just six for Ole Miss, a stat that usually kills teams on the road.

The second half looked to be a repeat of the first in the first minute as an Auburn turnover led to a quick Johnson three-pointer to put the Rebels up by 16. From that moment on the Tigers began a comeback led by a pair of freshmen in Douglas and Tolbert. The duo hit back-to-back baskets right off the bat and a steal led to a three-point play by Tolbert to make it seven-straight Auburn points. Yet another turnover by the Rebels was followed by a three by Douglas that cut the lead down to six. Watson scored the next basket from the paint to cut the lead all the way down to four as Auburn scored 12 straight to get back in the game.

Johnson wasn't done though as his fifth three of the game put Ole Miss back up by seven. Following a Brown free throw, Londrick Nolan scored in the paint to push the lead back to eight. Back-to-back baskets by Young from three-point land and Daniel Hayles in the paint cut the lead down to just three at 44-41 with 12:48 left. From that point on it was all Rebels. Over the next four minutes they outscored Auburn 8-0 with 6-7 center Tommie Eddie controlling things inside. After scoring just three points in the first half, he scored 14 in the second half as Ole Miss opened things up on Auburn. The Tigers never got the lead under 12 after that as turnovers down the stretch cost them at critical times. Ole Miss got the victory by a final of 70-55 as Auburn scored just 14 points the last 12 minutes and 48 seconds of the game.

"It was turnovers and they had some looks at the basket," Lebo said. "The game got physical and when it got physical and let them play that was tough for us because we don't have physical type players. We just got really manhandled at every position due to the nature of the game. We couldn't score. They don't have shotblockers on the floor, but we couldn't put the ball on the floor and make shots. We got good looks when we didn't turn it over, we just didn't finish the shots."

For the game the Tigers shot just 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range. The stat of the game was 20 turnovers for the Tigers compared to just 13 for Ole Miss. Douglas led Auburn in scoring with 14 points on 5-10 shooting while Watson added 10. Johnson led all scorers with 19 points for Ole Miss while Eddie added 18.

Box Score

Auburn returns home Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. when the Tigers take on struggling Mississippi State at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers enter with a record of 10-10 overall and just 1-6 in conference play.

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