Barber Seriously Injured As Tigers Win Again

Auburn won its seventh game in its last eight contests, but saw its leading scorer and rebounder go down with an injury.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn won its fifth consecutive men's basketball game on Saturday, but saw its best player leave the game early with a serious injury as Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers defeated the visiting Towson Tigers 79-59.

Junior forward Korvotney Barber, who injured both his right and left hands in the game, played just six minutes in the contest before being taken for treatment.

Lebo said the medical report is not a good one on Barber. The junior forward is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand.

"I feel really bad for Vot.," Lebo said. "He has been playing really well for us. He is a great kid who works hard every day. He has been the pillar through all of the bad luck we've had. His improvement has been great.

Korvotney Barber

"For our team, it is heartbreaking, and I feel for them," Lebo said. "Obviously, it is an unbelievably difficult situation.

"We are down to six (scholarship) guys without Vot," the coach added, shaking his head in dismay at the thought of playing with his team's leading scorer and rebounder.

In his six minutes of playing time, Barber was 1-2 from the field, 3-4 at the foul line and contributed three rebounds and a steal. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding for the season.

In Barber's absence, senior Quan Prowell stepped up with one of his best performances as an Auburn player. He hit 10-13 field goals to lead all scorers with 25 points. He was also the game's top rebounder with 11.

"After Vot went out, I felt like I had to be the big man inside because he brings a lot to the table," Prowell said. "He brings the energy rebounding and he has a defensive presence out there. When he went out, I felt it was time for me to step up and play a bigger role."

The attrition on the 2007-2008 Auburn team has been significant. The team's biggest player, 7-1 center Boubacar Sylla, is recovering from an injury and is a strong candidate for a medical hardship redshirt.

Junior forward Josh Dollard is out for the season and that is also the case with senior guard Archie Miaway, who Lebo was hoping to get back in action this month after the fall semester grades posted, but that didn't happen.

Sophomore Lucas Hargrove, who is out of action with a broken bone in his wrist, is about a week away from having his cast removed, Lebo told Inside the Auburn Tigers so there is a chance the guard/forward will be ready to see some action for the start of SEC play.

"We are hurtin' baby," Lebo said when asked if there are any walk-ons on the team that can help with the inside game. Lebo has only played one walk-on this season, guard Larry Williams, Jr., who was in for four minutes and hit a three-pointer vs. Towson. Lebo indicated if the Tigers have to substitute a non-scholarship player into the game, Williams will be the guy whether he is replacing a guard or a big man.

The on the court happenings other than the injury to Barber were almost all positive for Lebo's Tigers. "I thought the first half we did some good things," he said. "We didn't shoot the ball particularly well. We got some good looks and missed some shots. I thought Quan played very well with 25 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes. He got a little fatigued, but I don't have any bench so. We need to be in the best shape of our lives now.

"Defensively, for the most part, especially in the first half, I thought we did a pretty good job. In the second half, not quite as good."

Junior Rasheem Barrett, who was 9-21 from the field, scored 19 for Auburn added seven rebounds.

Junior Quantez Robertson only shot the basketball four times, but had a huge impact offensively with 11 assists and no turnovers. He added six rebounds, six points, two steals and one blocked shot.

Senior guard Frank Tolbert finished with nine points and eight rebounds and he will be counted on to rebound even more until Barber returns.

Auburn, which has won seven of its last eight games and five in a row, took control of the game early and was never seriously challenged by the team from the Colonial Athletic Conference that fell to 4-7 as a crowd announced at 3,938 watched at the coliseum.

Auburn out-rebounded Towson 46-27 and shot 47.6 percent from the field while holding the visitors to 38.6 percent from the field.

Auburn, which has shown signs of breaking out of its free throw slump, was very good at the foul line on Saturday nailing 14-17 attempts.

Towson, which came into the game ranked seventh nationally in fewest turnovers, had just 11 in the game, but Auburn outperformed Towson in that category also with just nine turnovers.

Towson put up 31 three-point shots in the game and made eight while Auburn shot 19 threes and hit five.

Towson scored the first basket a minute and a half into the action, but the Tigers quickly tied the game on a pair of free throws by Barber and took the lead for good at the 17:51 mark at 5-2 on a three-pointer from the wing by Frank Tolbert.

A baby hook by Matt Heramb, who scored 10 points and added four rebounds off the bench, increased the lead to 11-5. After the visitors cut the gap to 11-8, Auburn went on a 14-0 run to take command of the game.

Auburn's largest lead of the half was 19 points as Barrett hit a jumper to put the Tigers on top 31-12 at the 7:02 mark. The rest of the half the visitors from Maryland outscored Auburn 14-9 to cut the margin at intermission to 40-26.

At the break the Tigers were shooting 51.6 percent from the field to 32.3 for Towson. Prowell, who hit five of his six field goals, led the Tigers in scoring with 10 points at halftime.

Another big edge at halftime was on the boards with the Tigers leading that statistic 23-14.

Towson's main man on offense, Junior Hairston, was limited to three field goal attempts and four points in the first half. For the game he was held to six points and six rebounds. Rocky Coleman led Towson with 13 points.

Towson's second-leading scorer for the season, 6-4 sophomore guard Rodney Spruill, did not play and is academically ineligible, Coach Pat Kennedy announced prior to the game.

Auburn built its largest lead of 22 points with 13:15 left in the second half on a free throw by Prowell. The visitors, using a zone trap defense, then made a run and cut the Auburn lead to 13 at 57-44 before Lebo called a timeout.

"They played a 1-3-1 and we play it, too," Lebo said of the defensive scheme that caused his Tigers some problems during the Towson run. "We attack it all of the time. We missed two open shots and then our transition D broke down.

"In the second halves we have had those where we get up 20 and all of the sudden they go on a little run and it is 12 or 13 and they get back into it," Lebo added. "Some of that, I think, is fatigue. It is just mentally draining to play the amount of minutes we are playing. It is just hard. We just have to deal with it."

After the timeout, Auburn built the lead back to 20 by the 5:14 mark on a three-pointer by Barrett and coasted home for the win.

Quan Prowell hit 10-13 field goals and 4-5 free throws.

The star of the game was definitely Prowell. "I felt pretty good today," he said. Commenting on what is the key to playing well, the senior said, "I think it is starting inside. The outside stuff will come. I think it is playing inside, playing good defense, rebounding and doing the little things to start the game off. Everything else will follow."

The Tigers return to action with a 7 p.m. home game on Wednesday vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

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