Seniors Go Out In Style With Victory Over Arkansas

Four seniors led the way as Auburn won its basketball rematch vs. Arkansas on Senior Day at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn, Ala.--It was a special day for a special group of seniors Saturday as Quinnel Brown, Troy Gaines, Nathan Watson and Ian Young ended their home careers with a 77-64 win over Arkansas.

Auburn held the Razorbacks scoreless for nearly 11 minutes of action and used a 21-0 run to earn the victory on Senior Day as a crowd of 4,134 saw the Tigers end a four-game losing streak.

"It was a nice way to go out with 21 points and eight rebounds," Brown said. "All four of us were pumped knowing this was our last game playing here in Auburn. We just came out and gave it our all."

The win ended Auburn's regular season at 13-16 overall, 4-12 in the SEC, which is just one fewer win than last year's team. After the game Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said that despite height and depth problems his team battled and gave it their all the entire season.

"It's just a terrific win for our team on a special night for our seniors," Lebo said. "We did a lot of good things and defensively we were pretty good at the first part of the second half. They were missing some shots. They beat us by 37 and we came home and beat them by 13 here at home. That's a credit to the kids not putting their head down."

Arkansas took a 95-59 decision in Fayetteville on Jan. 22, but was beaten in nearly every phase of the game in Auburn.

"Let's give Auburn credit," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "They out-played us, out-hustled us and out-worked us. We knew they'd be a different team than we played the first time."

Two of the seniors, Brown and Watson, played one of the best games of their careers. Brown made all eight of his shots from the floor and was 5-6 from the foul line.

Coach Jeff Lebo

"The game that Q played today was just phenomenal and it couldn't happen to a better kid," Lebo said. "Eight for eight with 21 points and eight rebounds playing out his natural position--I thought he was terrific all night."

Heath was also impressed with the Auburn center, who admitted after the game that he's actually only 6-4 and 3/4 inches tall.

"Quinnel Brown was a difficult matchup for us because he can do so many things," Heath said. "You can't go small on him because he can beat you on the post, and he can also beat you off the dribble."

Watson made 5-9 shots from the field and finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Young also stuffed the box score with nine points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists. Gaines got the start and contributed three points.

Ian Young shoots vs. the Razorbacks.

After playing the first seven minutes, Gaines was on the bench until the end of the game when the student section chanted for him to come back for the last minute.

"I've been wanting them to do that all year," he said. "It's good especially coming from the West Coast--everybody is real hospitable and nice here. They do that for all of the seniors, but I know there are a lot of guys out there who have been rooting for me. They showed their support and I appreciate it."

Auburn claimed an early 6-0 lead, but the Razorbacks went on a 9-0 run and led for most of the first half. A three-pointer by Olu Famutimi put Arkansas up by four at 27-23 with 4:07 remaining, but those were the last points of the half for the Razorbacks.

Tolbert knocked down a three and Young finished the scoring in the first half with a pair of threes to give Auburn a 32-27 heading into halftime.Arkansas shot well for much of the first half, making 11-25 attempts from the floor and 4-9 on threes, but the Tigers cashed in 11 points off 11 Arkansas turnovers.

After getting called for 27 fouls in Wednesday's game at Alabama, Auburn had only two fouls in the first half at home against Arkansas.

The Razorbacks' scoring drought continued for the first six and a half minutes of the second half. A steal and lay-up by Eric Ferguson with 13:25 left to play in the game was Arkansas' first points in 10:42 of game action. During that stretch Auburn had scored 21 points and led 44-27 before Ferguson's basket.

"We started off in the second half and our first three shots were threes," Heath said. "I like the three, but I like them to come from inside-out action. After a while I think it became a mental thing and nobody stepped up and made a play for us."

Arkansas cut into the 17-point deficit and pulled to within single digits with seven minutes remaining, but a pair of steals by Watson led to easy Tiger baskets and gave Auburn at 60-47 advantage. A step-back three-pointer off the dribble by Douglas extended Auburn's lead back to 16 points, which was too much for the out of control Razorbacks to overcome.

For the game, Arkansas had 24 turnovers which resulted in 28 points for Auburn. The Tigers had 18 turnovers of their own, which led to 18 Razorback points.

Darian Townes led the Razorbacks in scoring and rebounding with 18 and 10. Ronnie Brewer finished with 16 points and seven boards. The loss dropped Arkansas to 18-11 overall and 6-10 in the SEC.

Heath said after the game that he expected his team to win the rebound battle by close to 10, but the Razorbacks had only one more than the Tigers, 35-34. Arkansas made 24-59 shots from the floor for 40.7 percent. They made 8-26 three-point attempts.

Auburn got 46.9 percent for the game (23-49) and hit 9-21 threes for 42.9 percent. Freshman Toney Douglas made four of Auburn's nine threes and finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Tigers will head to Atlanta on Thursday for the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome. Their first round game will be at 8:45 p.m. CST against Vanderbilt, who beat Auburn 67-43 on Feb. 16.

"It's a second season for us and it's a hard matchup against Vanderbilt, a team that is playing very well and is very well coached," Lebo said. "We played well for a half the first time, but we have some inexperienced guys who have never played in that kind of environment."


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