Aggies Take Tigers to the Basketball Woodshed

Auburn could do little right as a hot Texas A&M thrashed the Tigers on Friday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Texas A&M jumped on Auburn early and never let up as the 13th-ranked Aggies put an 87-58 basketball pounding on the Tigers Friday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn's performance was bad. In fact, the setback reached historical levels.

The loss was the worst ever suffered by the Tigers in the 39-year history of Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The previous worst loss at the coliseum was by 25 points to LSU in 1983.

You have to go back to Jan. 1952 in the old Sports Arena for a worse home setback when the Tigers fell 88-48 to Kentucky. The all-time worst home loss was 77-13 in 1913 to the Columbus YMCA.

Auburn's sluggish performance sent a significant portion of the largest crowd of the season, 6,781 fans, heading for the exits early. The ones who checked out early didn't miss much as the Tigers were never able to make a serious run after falling behind 43-23 halftime.

The Tigers slipped to 9-4 after the loss while Texas A&M improved its record to 10-2.

Auburn's basketball sins on Friday were many and varied. Among the worst were:

*2-17 shooting from three-point range in the first half by the Tigers. It didn't get much better in the second half when the Tigers made 4-15.

*Auburn scored only two points in a nine-minute stretch in the first half as the Tigers saw a 6-5 lead turn into a 26-8 deficit.

*The Tigers allowed the visitors to hit 54.8 percent of their first half shots while Auburn made just 30 percent.

*Texas A&M dominated the inside play for 40 minutes, scoring 42 points in the paint to just 12 for the Tigers and outrebounding Auburn 40-33.

*For the game the Tigers launched 57 shots and made just 33.3 percent while the Aggies connected on 57.1 percent of their 56 field goals.

*The Tigers also struggled with free throws, making just 14-24.

Texas A&M guard Acie Law put on a show as he led all scorers with 21 points and controlled the tempo on offense and defense. He added four assists and impressed scouts from eight NBA teams who were watching.

Jeff Lebo, AU's head coach was also impressed. "Acie Law was the difference in the game," he said. "He was tremendous. We didn't have an answer for him. He's a pro."

Law said, "It was a big win for us coming into the SEC. It is tough on the road and we hadn't been playing that good on the road.

"I think that they just missed some shots on offense and we just got ahead and we just continued to press on them. We didn't want to let them back in. Once they got behind, I don't want to say they quit or anything..just everything was going in our favor. We made the plays we needed to get the win."

Law added, "The shots they normally make, they weren't able to make tonight. We were able to make shots."

Freshman guard Kelvin Lewis launches a shotfor the Tigers. He did not score in 12 minutes of playing time.

Last year the Tigers lost by just five points to the Aggies in College Station. Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said he was surprised with what happened. "It was just a great win for us because it is against a really good basketball team and Acie said it about right. It was one of those deals where it wasn't that they weren't getting the shots they normally shoot. They just weren't able to make them and we were able to make some shots and get some in transition that led to some easy baskets."

Gillispie had his big men collapse inside on defense to prevent Auburn from running its high post screen plays and dared the Tigers to shoot from the perimeter. "They were daring us to shoot it," Lebo said. "They were big and we just couldn't get it in there to make anything happen. I think that Josh (Dollard) is a pretty good outside shooter and he was 0-6 (on threes). We shot so poorly to start with and they got in our heads. We didn't know what to do at that point. That was a little immaturity on our part."

Lebo said nobody played well for the Tigers, but reserve Quan Prowell was solid off the bench in his second game for the Tigers. He hit 7-14 field goals, including 4-8 treys, to lead the Tigers with 20 points. He added six rebounds, two steals and one assist.

Dollard scored 12 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Korvotney Barber, Auburn's leading scorer, only got two field goals in the game. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.

"It was a lot more physical than any of the other games we played other than the Pittsburgh game," Barber said. "I think they were more physical than Pitt, really.

"It hurts real bad to lose by 30 at home in front of your fans," Barber added. "We just have to get better and get stronger in the weight room and work on our game over the break."

Lebo said Auburn's lack of an inside game was a major issue. "They had 42 (points) in the paint and we had 12. They were daring us to shoot it. They were big and we just couldn't get in there to make anything happen. I think Josh is a pretty good ooutisde shooting and he was 0-6.

"We shot so poorly to start with they got in our heads," Lebo said. "We didn't know what to do at that point. That as a little immaturity on our part. We knew that we weren't going to outscore them in he post because of their size. They really hurt us in there. Their big guys were much stronger and bigger in person than on tape."

The Tigers are off until after Christmas. They will play Charleston Southern at 1 p.m. at home on Dec. 30th.

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