Tigers Outshoot Terriers Down the Stretch

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn outlasted Wofford 86-76 in a back-and-forth basketball battle that saw eight lead changes and eight ties Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Quantez Robertson led the Tigers with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and also buried a pair of threes down the stretch to pull away from the Terriers.

With Auburn taking several leads in the final minutes only to have Wofford answer with a score to tie it up at 62, 64, 66 and 71, Robertson's thee-point baskets with less than four minutes remaining was what his team needed to win.

"I thought Quantez was terrific," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "He made two big three-point shots late in the second half that give us a little momentum."

"He's tough," Lebo added. "I won't call him a dead-eye shooter from the perimeter, but in games when you need them he seems to have the ability to put them in because of his toughness. He's not afraid to take one. He's just a player. He's a tough guy and almost had a triple-double today. He's just an all-around guy and you've got to get him on the floor."

Auburn made a season high percentage-wise with 7-9 from the foul line and also from the three-point line with 11-22. The 24 assists were just three short of a the season high of 27 against Nicholls State.

"It was a good win for us," Lebo said. "You can see why they beat Cincinnati and they should have beaten NC State. What a difference one guy can make for a team, because (point guard Drew) Gibson has been out. They are a different team with him in the game. He was terrific getting to the hole. He's crafty, he's got some speed with it and we had a hard time guarding him."

Kelvin Lewis, a freshman guard from Fort Worth, Texas, made his Auburn debut. Lebo had the luxury of playing 10 scholarship players versus Wofford.

Both teams shot the ball well from long range in the first half with the Terriers knocking down 8-17 and Auburn hitting 7-14. Rasheem Barrett, who has struggled with perimeter shooting at times this season, had four of the seven threes for the Tigers.

The game was tied at 26 with just over six minutes showing on the clock before Auburn opened up a quick 12-point advantage capped off by a three from the corner by Barrett. A lay-up by Gibson for Wofford at the end of the half cut it to an eight-point Auburn advantage at 44-36.

To start the second half Wofford big men Tyler Whatley and Matt O'Connor took over inside and got the better part of Josh Dollard and Korvotney Barber by forcing them into bad shots.

With Auburn scoring just seven points in nearly 10 minutes to start the second half the Terriers had a scoring surge to come back and take the lead on a basket by Whatley at 53-51 for the first lead since 24-23.

"Coach just told us it's immaturity," Barrett said of the bad stretch of play. "We've just got to grow up a little more. We'll be all right with growing up and maturity as the season progresses."

The Terrier lead grew to as much as 60-53, but Auburn regained the momentum on a lay-in by Barber and a dunk by Dollard.

A pair of one-and-one free throws by Robertson with 7:57 remaining tied the game at 62. The Terriers committed just four fouls in the first half but got into the bonus quickly in the second half playing at a higher intensity level.

Wofford missed a three and Auburn was able to take the lead at 64-62 with Dollard driving and dishing to a Barber for the dunk. Eric Marshall tied it again with a jumper for Wofford, but Auburn answered back with a left-handed lay-up by Tolbert. Gibson beat Auburn down the court for two easy points to tie the game at 66.

Barrett got another three-point play for the Tigers, this time with the hoop, the harm and the free throw to give his team a three-point advantage. However, every time the Tigers scored, so did the Terriers. A pair of free throws by Marshall, a bucket from Frank Tolbert and then another three from Marshall and the game was tied once again, this time at 71-71 with 3:45 to play.

Coming out of a timeout Robertson hit a three from the corner and for once Wofford was unable to answer at the other end with Gibson missing a three from the top of the key.

Dollard converted both shots on a one-and-one to put Auburn up by five, but that was quickly shrunk to two on a three by Corey Godzinski. Dollard hit a baby hook to make it 78-74 but O'Connor answered with a driving basket to keep it at a one possession game. With both teams scoring on nearly every single possession, Robertson followed suit with another three from the corner to put Auburn up 81-76.

"We all know that Tez can make those shots and he's proven himself in practice and he's proven himself to his teammates and the coaches that he can make the shots," Barrett noted. "When Tez had the ball in his hands going up I already knew it he was going to make it."

Gibson finally missed a three on the other end then committed a foul on Reed, who sank the first one and Tolbert was able to pull down the rebound to give Auburn the ball with a six-point lead. After running down the shot clock, Barrett drove to the bucket and dished to Dollard who slammed one home as Auburn was finally able to pull away from Wofford.

"I'll put it like this," Tolbert explained. "Those guys can shoot. If you give them a little bit of space it's going up and it's looking good. I've got to give them credit. They've got a good point guard in Gibson and he broke the defense, found the open man and they made shots. That's what made them so hard to guard.

"It's disappointing that we get down and let them get them back in the game," Tolbert added. "Still, we have to fight through that adversity, which we did today."

The Tigers had all five starters in double figures in scoring. Barrett had 18 points on 5-8 threes. Dollard and Barber combined to hit 13-18 shots on the low post. Dollard had 16 points, six boards and three assists while Barber chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds. Tolbert was 7-9 from the floor and contributed 15 points and seven assists as the Tigers outrebounded Wofford 39-21.

With Gibson running the show offensive, the Terriers turned it over just eight times, compared to 15 by Auburn. However, his team hit 28-60 shots from the field while Auburn nailed 34-59 for a crisp 57.6 percent.

Auburn improved to 8-3 and Wofford dropped to 4-7.

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