Aggies Hold Off Late Auburn Rally

Auburn fell short of winning a third straight game as Texas A&M stayed unbeaten.

College Station, Tex.--Texas A&M never trailed as the Aggies stayed unbeaten with a 72-67 basketball victory over Auburn on Thursday night, their 21st consecutive regular non-conference win.

The Tigers, who had won their previous two games, fell to 5-3 with all three setbacks on the road.

The difference in the game was at the foul line. The home team shot 37 free throws and made 29. Auburn took 27 free throws and made 17.

Frank Tolbert led the Tigers with 15 points in just 17 minutes of action. Early foul trouble kept him on the bench the majority of the game, including 14 minutes in the first half. Tolbert hit 5-9 field goals, including 2-3 treys.

Joseph Jones, A&M's 6-9 sophomore forward, led all scorers with 24 points. He was 6-10 from the field and made 12-14 free throws. He was also the game's leading rebounder with eight.

Auburn shot 41.5 percent from the field and made 22 field goals, two more than the home team.

The Tigers also enjoyed a 33-28 rebounding advantage.

Texas A&M had 13 turnovers, two less than the Tigers.

Senior Ronny LeMelle and freshmen Quantez Robertson also scored in double figures for the Tigers. LeMelle, who made 4-10 field goals and 4-4 free throws, finished with 14 points in 38 minutes of court time.

Robertson played all but one minute and scored 10 points and dished out six assists with three turnovers and one steal. He also added four rebounds and was 3-7 from the field.

Freshman forward Rasheem Barrett fouled out with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and one turnover in 28 minutes of action in a reserve role.

Another freshman, Korvotney Barber, scored eight and added four rebounds. Freshman Josh Dollard led the Tigers in rebounds with six to go with two points in 20 minutes off the bench.

The Aggies, who shot 46.5 percent from the field, got 19 points from junior guard Acie Law, who hit 9-17 field goals.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said he liked his team's effort. "We got 10 more shots, made two more field goals, made three more threes than they did and we out-rebounded them, kept our turnovers down--they are averaging (forcing) 24 turnovers a game. We did some good things."

Lebo singled out Robertson and Barrett for their solid play against what he called a "very good Texas A&M basketball team."

The Aggies built an 11-point first half lead, but Auburn pulled even with just under two minutes before halftime at 26-26 on a stuff by freshman forward Josh Dollard. That was one of three ties during the contest.

The home team, which improved its record to 8-0 this season and 2-2 all-time vs. Auburn, led 30-29 at halftime.

At the break the Tigers were shooting 45.8 percent to 33.3 percent from the field for the home team as a crowd of 8,076 watched at Reed Arena. However, a 14-5 advantage in made free throws in the first minutes was enough to keep Texas A&M on top.

The Aggies scored the first seven points to open the second half and built the lead to 49-39 midway through the period. The largest lead was at 59-47 with six minutes left to play, but the Tigers stayed within striking range until the final minute.

The Tigers pulled to within four in the final minute, but the Aggies iced the contest by hitting four straight free throws to stop the comeback.

The Tigers will take a break for Christmas and return to practice the day after Christmas. They return to game action at home on Thursday, Dec. 29th vs. Winthrop.

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