Tigers Celebrate Victory In Auburn Style

Auburn's basketball victory over 22nd-ranked Tennessee was a first for Jeff Lebo's Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--The first victory over a Top 25 team in the Jeff Lebo called for a celebration, the Auburn men's basketball coach said.

On Wednesday night after his Tigers rallied from 14 points down in the second half to knock off Tennessee 83-80 at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, Lebo's players weren't done when the final whistle blew.

As soon as they showered and dressed, the Tigers were chunking rolls of toilet paper and laughing in downtown Auburn celebrating their 12th victory of the season. It was also the first victory for the Tigers in the past 16 games vs. a Top 25 team dating back to an 80-64 victory over LSU on Feb. 18, 2004 when Cliff Ellis was the coach.

"It was a great win for the kids and I have been promising for a year and half, as soon as we got one over a ranked team, we are going to Toomer's," Lebo said.

The Tigers put three players into double figures with Frank Tolbert scoring a season high 24 points and Quan Prowell getting his season high with 21. Those two juniors wrapped forward Rasheem Barrett, who scored 11 points, in toilet paper on Wednesday night in the rain and cold at Toomer's, but the sophomore didn't mind. He was having too much fun enjoying the victory that even his team's record at 2-2 in the SEC and improved the overall mark to 12-7.

Director of basketball operations John Searby, who was there for the celebration, said it was a special night for the players. "This is one of the great traditions of Auburn and it is great to see our kids have a chance to be a part of it," he says.

Making it happen was a 43-37 rebounding edge, including big rebounds in crunch time, noted Josh Dollard, the sophomore forward who led all players with nine boards.

The Auburn team poses for a group photo on Wednesday night at Toomer's Corner.

Another key for Auburn was free throw shooting. The Tigers hit 20-28, including 18-23 in the second half, to spark the comeback and preserve the lead.

"Our team finally found a way to get over the hump, which was nice," Lebo says. "We were hoping this day would come sooner or later. Finally it got there. There was a lot of determination by our kids. They were down 14 points and to go on a 17-0 or 18-0 run to take the team and then they had to gut it out at the end."

Even UT coach Bruce Pearl commented on Auburn's success on Wednesday night after the Tigers missed a shot at the buzzer that would have ended the streak vs. ranked opponents last Saturday at LSU.

"Congratulate Auburn on a great win for them," he said. "I know it has been a while since they beat a ranked team.

"Jeff has done a terrific job with the program. They have been getting close. Even though it is at our expense I am very happy for him and his kids. I thought they battled really hard and did a lot good things. They certainly made a great run there at the end."

Stats, Box Score on Team Front


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