On Saturday, Jeff Lebo's Auburn basketball team got strong offensive performances from a pair of freshman forwards as the Tigers improved to 7-3 with an 87-83 victory over Jacksonville State.
"It wasn't pretty, but we found a way to win," Lebo said. "I was worried about our team, both physically and mentally, coming off of the Winthrop game. Jacksonville State is tough when their shots fall. We didn't have an answer with our defense until the last 10 minutes of the game.
"We had 71 points off the bench," Lebo noted. "I have never coached a game where that has happened or that freshmen led the way. Rasheem was terrific tonight and against Winthrop. He kept us up there with them and we finally got over the hump."
Barrett hit 9-14 field goals, including 2-3 three-pointers and 8-10 foul shots while adding four rebounds.
Dollard hit 11-14 field goals, 7-11 free throws and added eight rebounds.
Sophomore Daniel Hayles was next. He scored 11 points and added five rebounds for the Tigers.
Forward Courtney Bradley led the Gamecocks, who fell to 5-5, with 20 points.
Commenting on the comeback wins vs. Winthrop and JSU, Lebo said, "Winthrop is as good as anyone. I would put them in the top 50. That is just basketball for you. That is the way it goes. There have been 15 or 16 non-Division I schools to beat Division I schools. Every weekend, or day they play, you are going to see that. You don't see that with football and that is what makes this game great."
Auburn trailed 44-40 at halftime to the dismay of a crowd of 2,166 at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers' lead, which had been 11 with 3:46 to play in the first half, disappeared rapidly.
Commenting on what he told his team at halftime, Lebo said, "I went in there and challenged our captains. I told them they are beating us off the dribble and on the glass. We needed to get ready to play. We were getting our tails kicked."
The game marked the return to action of junior guard Brett Howell, who has been out of action with a foot injury. He played 11 minutes in relief of point guard Quantez Robertson, who got in early foul trouble and played just 29 minutes after going 40 the previous game.
"Quantez had two fouls early on," Lebo noted. "Brett is a good shooter. That is what he does. He runs the team when he is out there. We can't play Quantez so much and Tolbert (Frank Tolbert) has foul problems so we have to go to the bench."
Robertson finished the game with just five points and had only one assist to go with four turnovers and three rebounds.
Robertson did hit hit the shot that put Auburn ahead for good with 5:11 to play. He nailed a trey to give the Tigers a 75-74 lead on a pass from Hayles. The Tigers had trailed by 13 with 16:55 to play.
Commenting on the big games from freshmen Dollard and Barrett, Lebo said, "Some games are better suited for different players, and you have to adjust to that. They both still have a long way to go. Dollard is the best freshman we have on the inside.
"We are still young," Lebo added. "When they get to be sophomores or juniors, hopefully we will know how to get a three-point play off of a foul and work more. This is a growing process, but it is nice to have depth."
Each team had 37 rebounds and Auburn shot 48.3 percent from the field to 43.9 for the Gamecocks, who had a season-high 11 made threes on 26 attempts. Auburn hit 6-18 treys.
Auburn made 25-38 free throws while Jax State hit 14-19.
The Tigers will be back in action at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday vs. Southern Miss at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.