Asked about Auburn's chances to get an NIT bid, Lebo said, "I don't know. I doubt it."
The loss to the Bulldogs was a season summary of Auburn's problems crammed into 40 minutes of basketball. Frank Tolbert had five turnovers, Rasheem Barrett couldn't make a shot from long range or short range, Quan Prowell made 80 percent of his shots but only had five attempts, and the Tigers made 5-12 shots from the free throw line.
"They played well and bothered us with their size," Lebo noted. "We had turnovers that were just not very smart. We shot the ball so poorly. Rasheem Barrett went 0-7 on three and 2-13. When teams play zone you've got to be able to get some shots and make some shots. They played man early and we got some good looks out of that. They went to the zone and the size of the zone bothered us.
Even with Barrett's poor shooting and three turnovers, Lebo kept him in the game until the very end.
"I stay with my veteran guys and I needed him out there to at least get them up and to shoot it before ee turned it over, I guess. He had a tough year for us. It was a hard game for him offensively."
Georgia head coach Dennis Felton decided to zone Auburn after the Tigers got five easy lay-ups against a man-to-man defense to open the game, and the strategy worked like a charm. Auburn turned the ball over 21 times and shot 6-25 from three-point range.
"They're difficult matchups for our post players," Felton explained, "so we played a lot of zone. It was good for us in Athens when we beat them. We played more 1-3-1 in this game than we did in Athens and it was good to us in the first half. We stayed in the zone because we felt like we had a better chance to defend them than we did in man."
Bulldog forward Takais Brown was the game-changer for Georgia and he had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Just as importantly, he drew double teams on the low block to open the perimeter. Levi Stukes capitalized with 22 points, 18 coming from behind the arch.
"Brown was too strong for anybody we had in there," Lebo said. "We doubled him most of the time and he still did some damage on the offensive glass against us."
Seven of Brown's 13 boards were offensive.
Auburn coaches (left to right) John Searby, John Cooper, Jeff Lebo, Dave Lebo and Brandon Johnson watch their Tigers struggle vs. the Bulldogs.
Billy Humphrey, who had 11 points and four assists, opened the game with a long three-pointer for the Bulldogs. Auburn struck back with 10 quick points before a Georgia timeout. Felton's squad settled in and took the lead back quickly with 14 points in less than seven minutes by Stukes alone. Georgia went into the locker room with a 41-31 lead.
Frank Tolbert finished with 11 points, but had five of Auburn's 21 turnovers.
The second half started with another Humphrey three and then a pair of Auburn turnovers, which set the tone for a sloppy second half as the Tigers looked like they had never seen a zone defense before.
"We just didn't attack it like we practiced the last few days," Quantez Robertson said. "We didn't attack it the right way and we didn't knock down the open shot tonight. We got some good looks but couldn't knock it down."
Josh Dollard, who was the only Auburn player to have a solid game with 13 points and 14 rebounds, said following the loss that the young Tigers should have the chance to stay around a little longer next year.
"Coming into next season we have the same group of people coming back," Dollard explained. "We'll be more mature and hopefully over this summer we'll get bigger, stronger and faster and have a better season than we had this year. We've got a lot to look forward to in the future so hopefully we can take this loss and move on."