Balanced Scoring Sparks AU to Hoops Victory

Auburn improved its record to 1-1 with a basketball victory over visiting Kennesaw State.

Auburn, Ala.--Six Auburn players scored in double figures as the Tigers led from start to finish in their home-opening 74-62 basketball victory over Kennesaw State on Tuesday night.

Korvotney Barber, Frank Tolbert and Rasheem Barrett each scored a dozen points while DeWayne Reed and Quantez Roberts added 11 for the Tigers, who shot 56.9 percent from the field.

Auburn's bench only scored 16 points, but 10 came from Lucas Hargrove, who was 4-4 from the field.

The Owls got a strong performance from guard Ronnell Wooten, who made 9-16 field goals, including 5-12 three-pointers, to lead all scorers with 23 points. His good shooting in the second half kept the game from turning into a blowout victory for the Tigers.

Lebo has been trying to get the offense to set up more shots for Barber, who has been hitting a high percentage of his field goals. Against the Owls the junior forward made six of seven field goals.

"Tonight I was missing passes," Barber said. "I don't know what was going on. I can make more shots, but I just have to catch the ball more."

Korvotney Barber

Barber had two turnovers, but that wasn't bad compared to the rest of the team that had 21 more turnovers as a group, much to the dismay of the head coach.

"We had way too many turnovers," Lebo said. "Our decision-making, especially in the second half, was not very good. Part of that was my fault. I hadn't seen them run around and double like that. We weren't prepared for it as much, but our decision making out of it was not very good, but we found a way to win, which was the most important thing."

Lebo added, "I thought we did some good things tonight until probably the last eight minutes. Then we kind of fatigued and didn't finish off the way we like. We had way too many turnovers."

Like they did in the opener in New Orleans vs. Tulane, the Tigers got off to a quick start scoring, but this time they didn't go into a prolonged scoring slump.

Auburn led 11-2 at the 16:09 mark on a layup by Tolbert. By intermission Auburn was up 38-23 with Tolbert leading the way with nine points and three rebounds. The Tigers hit 51.9 percent of their first half shots, including 4-10 threes. However, their foul line woes continued as they made just 6-14 at the free throw line in the first 20 minutes.

Kennesaw State, which fell to 0-2 this season, hit 33.3 percent from the field and 3-11 treys plus 2-6 free throw in the first half.. Auburn held a 22-16 halftime edge in rebounds and each team had eight turnovers.

After a slow start in the second half, the Tigers built the lead to 20 on a pull-up fastbreak jumper for three by Tolbert from the top of the key with 14:50 left putting the Tigers up 49-29.

The lead ballooned to 24 points, but the visitors made a late run and cut the lead to 70-57 with 2:28 when Lebo called a timeout.

The Owls cut the gap to 12, which turned out to be the final margin of victory for the Tigers who will return to action on Friday night in Montgomery vs. Alabama State at the Joe Reed Acadome on the ASU campus.

For the game, a crowd of 4,126 watched Auburn out-rebound the Owls 39-32 and had five more turnovers.

Kennesaw State shot 41 percent from the field and hit 4-9 free throws and 8-24 threes.

Auburn, which made 7-15 threes, struggled again at the foul line, making just 9-22 shots. The biggest offender was Hargrove, who was 1-5. Freshman center Boubacar Sylla, who scored three points and added three rebounds in nine minutes, was 1-4 at the foul line.

He left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Lebo said he isn't sure how serious the injury is.

Game Notes: Lebo didn't make his first substitution until the 13:00 mark of the first half when Matt Heramb replaced Rasheem Barrett and Lucas Hargrove replaced DeWayne Reed...Non-conference teams don't normally bring enough fans to make noise at the coliseum, but Kennesaw State had a loud and proud group of black-clad supporters who cheered their team on from the south baseline seats...Boubacar Sylla finally scratched in the box score with a rebound at the 8:39 mark of the first half. It took the 7-1 freshman center just seven seconds to do it again with a slam dunk for his first regular season college points after not scoring or grabbing a rebound in three minutes vs. Tulane...Quantez Robertson is known for being a good defensive player, but a play in the first half was impressive even for the junior when he was the lone defender on a four-on-one Kennesaw fastbreak. Robertson stole the ball and set up Hargrove for a dunk on the other end of the court.

The early signing week begins on Wednesday and the Tigers are expected to sign two guards, a forward and a center. The group, who previously verbally committed, includes guard 6-2 Frank Sullivan from R.C. Hatch High in Uniontown, 6-2 guard Tay Waller from Manchester, Ga., and Okaloosa-Walton Junior College, 6-7 forward Frank Gabriel from United Faith Christian in Charlotte, N.C., and 6-8 Johnny Lett from Mobile and Okaloosa-Walton.

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