Thanks to a 42-20 rebounding edge sparked by inspired play from freshman Brandon Robinson, Auburn was able to rally from an 11-point deficit and take the lead in the second half.
Robinson produced a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He hit 8-14 field goals, added two assists, two blocked shots and two steals. He also committed just three turnovers, something that had bothered him in previous outings.
"That is the best we have played in a while," said head coach Cliff Ellis.
Arkansas led 31-23 at halftime, but the Tigers caught the Razorbacks with 13:09 to play as point guard Lewis Monroe, one of three freshmen in the starting lineup, hit a pair of free throws to pull the Tigers even at 41-41. Then, 25 seconds later, another freshman starter, forward Marco Killingsworth, sank a pair of free throws to put the Tigers ahead for the first time since the opening moments.
The game stayed close the rest of the afternoon with the lead see-sawing until the Razorbacks took it for good with 4:17 left. Senior Teddy Gibson, who led the home team in scoring with 14 points, took a steal the distance for two points and was fouled by Robinson who tried for the block to make uip for his turnover. Gibson converted the three-point play for a 61-58 lead. "He's a senior making a play against a freshman," Ellis said of the play.
Monroe cut the gap to one at the 1:44 mark when Harrington missed a reverse layup on a fastbreak, but the freshman put in the rebound. However, Monroe's turnover with 29.7 seconds left on a bad pass was costly. The Tigers got a second chance when Brandon Dean missed the front end of a one-and-one with 24.9 seconds to play. Harrington grabbed the rebound and Auburn, which was out of timeouts, ran its offense but couldn't get a good shot. Harrington was pressured as he shot a three-point. The long rebound was fought for by two Razorbacks and traveling was called.
Auburn got the ball on the baseline with 1.5 seconds left and time to send the game into overtime or win. Derrick Bird, who led the Tigers in scoring with 19 points, launched an off-balance three from the corner, but the shot was not close as the home team escaped with a victory.
Arkansas improved its record to12-9 overall and 4-5 in the SEC. Auburn dropped to 9-11 overall and 1-8 in the league with six straight losses.
Ellis said he liked his team's effort, particularly on the boards. The big difference in the game was in the turnover category. Arkansas had an unusually low total of just 10 while the Razorback pressure defense forced 21 Tiger turnovers. That was enough to negate Auburn's plus-20 rebounding advantage and slight edge in shooting.
Auburn hit 44.2 percent of its field goals to 42.3 for Arkansas. Auburn was 5-19 on three-pointers while Arkansas made 4-17. Auburn was 9-14 at the foul line while the home team made 14-21.
Bird, who appears to be snapping out of his scoring slump, made 6-14 field goals. He was 3-9 on treys and 4-4 at the free throw line. No other Tigers scored in double figures other than Bird and Robinson. In addition to Gibson, the only double-figures scorer for the Razorbacks was Jannero Pargo, who finished with 12 points.
Auburn doesn't play on Tuesday or Wednesday, but will be back in action with a Saturday, 1 p.m. home game against Georgia.
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