Tigers Pick Up 5th Win vs. Southern

The Auburn men's basketball team was a winner Saturday night in Mobile.

Mobile, Ala.--It wasn't exactly a work of basketball art, but for Rasheem Barrett and Quan Prowell it was a better result as the Tigers held off Southern University for a 71-63 basketball victory on Saturday night.

Prowell, who struggled in his first game back from a suspension with just four points and two rebounds vs. West Virginia days ago, bounced back with a team-high 21 points while adding six rebounds before fouling out.

Barrett, who Coach Jeff Lebo said had one of his best games of the young season, scored 18 points and led all rebounders with 10. He was named MVP of the game that was part of a doubleheader in the Coors Classic at The Mitchell Center on the campus of South Alabama.

Barrett said he thought the Tigers, who improved to 5-2, didn't show any ill effects from their layoff during final exams. "I thought we came out pretty strong and the defense came out fired up," he said.

Both Lebo and Barrett noted the Tigers didn't do a good job of putting away a team they had on the ropes on several occasions. "We have got to learn when we get up on a team how to put our foot on them and step on them," Barrett said. "We have got to learn how to finish games out.

"We have to improve our rebounding, our talking on D and closing out running the offense," he added. "Defense, at times, we saw spurts of it, but we have just got to play it the whole game."

Prowell said he couldn't wait to get back on the court after a disappointing performance in Birmingham vs. West Virginia. "It was a big relief," he said. "It was a lot of weight off our shoulders. Mine would be the most. We came out and played good as a team. Rasheem was a good spark for us and started us off right."

Prowell hit 8-10 field goals, including 4-5 threes. "I shot the ball well and I feel like the defense will come," the senior said. "The fouls were the hard things to deal with today. Everything else I will have to work on."

Quan Prowell scored 21 for the Tigers.

As a team, Prowell said the Tigers need to improve their outside shooting and free throws. The Tigers hit just 5-17 threes and 10-17 foul shots

Auburn had a good night shooting the basketball from the field, making 54.9 percent to 46.2 percent for the Jaguars. However, 19 turnovers kept the game close.

Jazz Williams led the Jaguars in scoring with 14 points and Joe Holliday added 11 for his team which fell to 1-7 with the loss.

The Tigers jumped to a quick 9-2 lead, but the Jaguars rallied to pull ahead with 10:35 left on a long three-point basket by Joe Holliday.

The Tigers regained the lead at 19-17 a little more than two minutes later on a three-point jumper from the wing by Prowell.

Another three-point play by Prowell, this one the old-fashioned kind after he was fouled on a baseline jumper, stretched the lead to 24-19 with 5:22 to play in the first half.

A drive to the basket by Quantez Roberson built the advantage to 28-19 at the 4:19 mark. On the next possession, a pull-up jumper by Barrett, built the lead to double figures.

Southern cut the lead to five points less than five minutes into the second half as Holliday nailed a three-pointer from the wing. However, the Tigers got the lead back into double figures at the 10:16 mark on a steal and stuff play by Robertson to put Auburn ahead 56-45.

The Tigers built the lead to a dozen points, but couldn't pull away from the Jaguars.

A pair of free throws by Barry Honore with 1:41 left cut the gap to 63-58 after Barber missed the front end of a one-and-one.

After a Barber layup with 1:17 to play, the Jaguars cut the margin to 65-61 with 59 seconds left on a three-point shot by Williams.

With 58 seconds left, DeWayne Reed hit the front end of a one-one, but fouled Williams on the rebound. The Jaguars cut the lead to three as Williams made both foul shots.

However, the Tigers iced the game as Robertson hit two free throws with 26 seconds left. A breakaway dunk by Reed stretched the final margin to 71-63.

"We need to improve our basketball IQ," Prowell said, noting the Tigers didn't do a good job of protecting their lead down the stretch. "We have got to know what to do when the pressure comes. When they fouled we couldn't hit our free throws and gave them a chance to get the game closer at the end, but we pulled it off."

Lebo said, "We kind of gutted it out at the end. You can see what fatigue does to a team at the end. Turnovers in the second half, I think, hurt us. When we got shots, we shot a very high percentage and we did some good things offensively when we got shots."

Lebo added, "I thought Quan Prowell was aggressive, much better than he was against West Virginia. He had a very good game. I was very concerned when he fouled out. I have seven scholarship guys, but only six who play a lot of minutes for me."

The Auburn coach said he liked the play of Robertson, who had nine assists without a turnover while scoring eight points. Reed had just two assists to go with six turnovers.

Frank Tolbert, who hurt his wrist early in the game, struggled with just four points in 33 minutes. "He didn't have the type of game we need him to have for us to successful," Lebo said.

Barber had his usual solid game with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Lebo said he wasn't sure if the Tigers improved or not after struggling vs. West Virginia because the caliber of competition was lower on Saturday night in Mobile. "We did some good things," he said. "It is hard to tell if we got better. On the positive things, I thought Quan played much better. He was much more aggressive, especially in the second half. In the first half he was a little tentative. Hopefully, this game will get him a little more confident to be able to play."

Box Score

Next on the schedule for the Tigers is a home game on Wednesday vs. Mercer. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. as the Tigers play at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum for the first time since Nov. 13th.

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