Cowboys Nip Tigers In South Padre Tournament

South Padre Island, Tex.--Playing with intensity from start to finish, a scrappy Auburn men's basketball team battled Oklahoma State to the final second before dropping a 66-65 decision on Friday.

Auburn launched three three-point shots in the closing seconds to try to send the game into overtime, however, none connected. Korvotney Barber, who led the Tigers a career-high scoring game of 19 points while adding eight rebounds, tipped in the third miss with less than a second left to cut the gap to one point.

Auburn couldn't steal the in-bounds pass and the Cowboys improved their record to 6-0 while Auburn fell to 4-1.

For the game, shooting was the big difference in deciding the winner and loser. OSU hit 50.9 percent of its shots while Auburn made 46.0 percent.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo noted that a key to putting his team over the top would have been to have more success on three-pointers. The Tigers hit just 5-22 treys, many of them uncontested, while the Cowboys made 6-19. "I am disappointed we didn't shoot the ball well from three," Lebo said. "We had some pretty good looks."

The Tigers got 14 points from Quantez Robertson, who came up with six of Auburn's 12 steals. He split his time between the two-guard spot and point guard.

Frank Tolbert added 13 points for the Tigers plus eight rebounds. Rasheem Barrett added 10 points for Auburn.

Mario Boggan, who hit 11-13 field goals, led the Cowboys and all scorers with 25 points. The 6-7, 235 senior added six rebounds. JamesOn Curry added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Cowboys.

"I thought defensively we did a lot of nice things out there," said Lebo, whose team forced 23 OSU turnovers while committing just 13. "Our kids played awfully hard and well enough to win this game."

Sophomore Rasheem Barrett launches a shot for the Tigers.

Lebo added, "We showed some resiliency in the second half. Oklahoma State got up on us a couple of times in the second hal, but we didn't fold. We kept coming back and wehad a chance to win."

In a physical, fast-paced game at the South Padre Island Convention Center, neither team got to the foul line much. Auburn only had six free throws and made two. The Cowboys were 6-10 and enjoyed a 36-31 rebounding edge.

Oklahoma State led early in the game, but Auburn bounced back to take its first advantage at 12-11 on a Tolbert three-pointer with 12:19 left in the opening half. Auburn stretched the margin to 17-11, but the Cowboys made a 15-0 run. At halftime Auburn trailed 36-28.

Auburn rallied in the second half and pulled ahead 42-40 at the 15:20 mark on a tip-in by Barber, who made 7-10 shots, playing effectively with his left hand around the basket.

The Cowboys regained the lead less than a minute later on back to back three-pointers and stretched the lead to seven points with under seven minutes to play, but they could never shake the Tigers who cut the gap to 60-58 on a layup by Tolbert with 5:12 to play.

Neither team could score consistently down the stretch, but the Cowboys did just enough to hold off the Tigers who will play Wisconsin in the consolation game at 2 p.m on Saturday. The Badgers, a Top 10 ranked team from the Big 10, were upset 66-64 in the first half of the doubleheader by Missouri State.

Auburn's Robertson said his team played hard. "We gave everything we had both offensively and defensively. We just missed a lot of open shots."

The Tigers will face a Wisconsin team that is ranked seventh this week by both AP and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.

The Badgers are led by 6-6, 205 senior Alando Tucker who is averaging 21.2 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Auburn will have size issues in this game. Wisconsin starts 6-11, 245 Brian Butch, who is averaging 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds. At forward Jason Chappell is a 6-10, 245 forward who is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds. Wisconsin also has good size with its reserves.

Saturday's game will be the first time the Tigers and Badgers have played in basketball.

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