"I think the defensive entensity to start the second half was much better," Lebo said. "(Dwayne) Reed on the ball created some havoc. I think Quantez (Robertson) and Reed in the game together defensively were factors in the game."
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, former coach at UAB, says that the defensive pressure was the difference. "It was a tough loss," Bartow noted. "Obviously in the second half we didn't shoot it well and their defense had something to do with that. We turned the ball over 28 times for the game."
The Tigers trailed for much of the contest, but took a 41-39 lead with just over 13 minutes remaining. After several lead changes Auburn built a seven-point lead with less than a minute and a half to play. With Korvotney Barber at the line shooting a second free throw, the Tigers did their best to get the Buccaneers back into the game.
Barber missed the free throw and Rasheem Barrett came up with a loose ball. Instead of running the clock he bricked a 10-footer and Barber missed a left handed tip-dunk off Barrett's shot. The Bucs raced down the court and got a three from Dequan Twilley. Making it worse, Barber fouled Twilley and he sunk the free throw to cut it to three.
"We made some dumb plays down the stretch," Lebo said. We got a tip out on a nice play on a stunt and we take a shot with 1:22 instead of holding it. They'd probably foul us, we go to the line, make two and we're up nine. The game may be over at that point.
"Instead of being nine it's now three," he added. "We can't make those kind of mistakes. I don't know if Vot fouled him, but it was the shot that concerned me more than the foul. We made a lot mistakes, but we found a way to win."
Barber also disagreed with the call. "I didn't foul him. I guess it was a good flop."
Aided by more turnovers by the Bucs, the Tigers held on for the win.
ETSU came out of the gates on firing away from long range. Pigram's three-pointer at the 6:28 mark was his fourth of the half and it gave his team a 26-14 advantage over a cold-shooting Auburn squad. The Tigers hit just 8-31 shots in the first half while East Tennessee State made good on 12-23 and 6-8 from long range.
Pigram had 14 points at the break and Mike Smith had eight for the Bucs, who led 34-23 despite 14 first half turnovers.
The second half was the opposite story as East Tennessee State couldn't buy a bucket while Auburn was getting early threes from Barrett and Robertson. While the Buccaneer guards were more of the sharp-shooting variety, the athletisism of the Auburn guards caused problems in the second half as Bartow's squad had difficulty creating shots.
A three from Smith gave ETSU a 37-29 advantage, but after another three from Barrett and a hoop and harm for three points by Reed on a transition layup cut it to just a point. A free throw from Barber knotted the game at 37 and a slashing Barrett gave Auburn its first lead since the opening minute with a layup on an assist from Reed at 41-39.
Pigram was the game's leading scorer with 19 points, which was his season average coming into the contest. Despite shooting just 5-20 from the floor, Barrett had 15 points to lead the Tigers. Barber chipped in 14 points, eight boards and five blocks.
While the Bucs shot so well in the first half, they made just 6-27 for the second half for a 36 percent for the game. Auburn shot just 38.2 percent.
Auburn improved to 3-0 and will return to action on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. against Miles College. ETSU dropped to 2-2.