Tigers Clean Up Act to Defeat South Alabama

Jeff Lebo was not a happy coach for much of the night as his Tigers picked up their seventh win.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo called his team's first half performance "garbage," but his Tigers picked up their level of play in the second half to take an 82-71 basketball victory over South Alabama on Wednesday night.

First-year Tiger Archie Miaway came off the bench to score a season-best total of 15 points to help spark the victory. The junior college transfer hit 3-6 three-pointers and 5-5 free throws in 22 minutes of playing time.

Auburn's leading scorer vs. the Jaguars, Rasheem Barrett, also came off the bench. Lebo said he took the sophomore out of the starting lineup because he wasn't pleased with his overall body of work for the season.

Barrett responded with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes of action.

Lebo said he had another reason he was unhappy at halftime. "Our inside guys, Josh (Josh Dollard) and Vot (Korvotney Barber) were not very good and that hurt us a little bit." Both played better in the second half.

South Alabama, the defending Sun Belt Conference champion, dropped to 5-3 for the season and lost its fourth game to the Tigers in the last five meetings.

Auburn shot well in the first half, but only had a 36-33 lead to show for it after making 6-10 three-pointers and 60 percent from the field to 38.2 percent for the Jaguars.

"We had 14 turnovers and zero offensive rebounds," Lebo said. "I couldn't believe we were up at the half. Most of the time we would be down by about 12 or 14 at home.

"In the second half we had a nice little run, I think a 16-0 run, where finally we got going a little bit," Lebo added. "We looked like we were in quicksand.

"Their changing defenses slowed us down a little bit and got us thinking instead of playing at the speed...In the second half we played more Tez (Quantez Robertson) at the point guard, a more experienced guy, who just kind of blew through a lot of their stuff. We flowed a lot better with him in there."

Robertson scored 15 points and added five assists for the Tigers.

"Reed (DeWayne Reed) is going to have to learn--just like a freshman quarterback when they change defenses," Lebo said. "In high school they didn't do that too much. Their quickness in the backcourt bothered us. They have got quick guys back there. I think that was a factor, especially early in the game.

"We shot the ball well," Lebo noted. "Archie shot it well. We brought Rasheem off the bench. We wanted to light a fire under him defensively and getting to the offensive board. We have been disappointed to date with him defensively and on the offensive glass. He handled it well. He got a couple of key offensive rebounds on the foul line for us and he was a little better defensively for us."

Reed scored 15 points for the Tigers and added five assists with three turnovers. The Tigers got 12 rebounds and seven points from Dollard. Barber scored 12 points and added six rebounds.

Auburn, which improved to 7-3, hit 55.8 percent of its shots for the game to 44.6 percent for South Alabama.

The Jaguars were led by guard Carlos Smith, who scored 22 points. He hit 6-11 three-pointers. As a team South Alabama made 10-29 treys compared to 9-19 for Auburn. South Alabama finished at 44.6 from the field.

Lebo, who has been unhappy with Auburn's foul shooting, didn't have a lot to complain about Wednesday night. The Tigers hit 15-21 for the game.

Barrett led the Tigers at the break in scoring with 10 points while Stephen Cowherd scored 11 for the visitors as he hit 3-4 treys for his team that had 14 first half rebounds, one less than the Tigers.

South Alabama jumped on Auburn early in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 12-2 to take a 45-38 lead at the 14:23 mark on a basket by Daon Merritt.

Barber ended Auburn's drought with an inside score at the 14:11 mark and started a 16-0 run by the Tigers that lasted until 10:08 when Cowherd hit a runner in the lane to narrow the Auburn lead to 54-45.

"The difference in the game was the run they made in the second half," said South Alabama's Cowherd, who scored 13 points. "We didn't play hard enough and turned it over too many times."

A little more than two minutes later Tigers stretched the margin to 10 on a three-pointer by Robertson followed by a fast break basket by Barrett to make the score 61-51.

The Tigers built their lead to 13 points before the Jaguars cut it into single digits again at the 4:24 mark on a jump shot by Demetric Bennett to make the score 72-63.

The Tigers were able to preserve the margin by taking care of business at the foul line as the Jaguars sent the Tigers to line in the final minutes as the Tigers held on for an 82-71 victory.

South Alabama head coach John Pelphrey said, "I think Auburn is getting better and better. We had a chance to watch them on film a little bit. Jeff has done a very good job with them and they are getting better. As they continue to get their people back they are going to be a pretty good basketball team."

The next assignment for the Tigers is final exams. Auburn is off until a Dec. 16th 1 p.m. home game vs. Wofford.

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