Basketball Tigers Bury Bulldogs In Physical Win

Auburn won a physical basketball game vs. South Carolina on a memorable night for several Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior Marquis Daniels reached a milestone Wednesday night as his 16 point effort in Auburn's 85-65 victory over South Carolina State made him the 27th player in Auburn history to score 1,000 points in his career.

Surviving a very physical game with 50 total fouls called and 57 free throw attempts, Daniels said getting the milestone out of the way wasn't really on his mind. All he was concerned about was getting the win.

"It's a great accomplishment," Daniels said. "I'm just happy that I was able to come out and contribute to the team and help out as much as I can. I knew it was going to come eventually. We're just focused in on playing hard and executing the plays better, playing better defense and picking up things we need to pick up on."

Daniels, who was wearing an ice pack after the game, noted that there was blood on his body after the Wednesday night battle and said he felt like he had been in a wrestling match.

Marquis Daniels finished the night with eight rebounds, six assists and four steals in addition to his point total.

Sophomore forward Marco Killingsworth led the way for the Tigers with 17 points while adding nine rebounds. Center Kyle Davis came up big as well with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots in just 23 minutes of action because of foul trouble. With Davis out and the Bulldogs sporting a physical and athletic front line, Coach Cliff Ellis turned to Rodney Tucker for help off the bench and the former Florida State player responded with 11 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of action. All told the Tigers got 24 points and 14 rebounds from the bench and Ellis said that was a big help on a night when both teams forgot to put on the pads.

Guard Troy Gaines had 10 points off the bench for the Tigers Wednesday night on 2-4 shooting from the floor.

"They're not a bad basketball team," Ellis said of South Carolina State. "They are going to win their share of basketball games. Everything that Coach (Dave) Odom said from South Carolina was true. They gave us the same kind of game and I think Moses Malone, Jr. is an excellent player. They've got some good people. I wouldn't be shocked to see them in the NCAA out of their conference.

"I thought his play was good," Ellis said of Tucker. "We had to have our bench. (Derrick) Bird had a groin injury and he was hampered. We had a lot of high minutes for a lot of our players. We needed him to give us minutes. We need double-digit minutes out of him. The thing I like is his rebounding. He got four rebounds in five minutes in the second half. He had one rebound at the half and he answered the call."

Turnovers continue to plague the Tigers as they had 18 Wednesday night and forced 19 from the Bulldogs. Averaging 18.5 on the year coming into the game, Daniels said that is a concern for his team after five games on the season.

"That's a major issue that we need to focus on," the senior said. "We know we need to focus on rebounding better and keeping our turnovers down. We're shooting pretty good from the field and our free throw percentage is a lot better. We just have to focus on keeping our turnovers down and we'll be a better ball club."

Holding a small but comfortable 13-point lead after intermission, the Tigers came out roaring in the second half behind the play of Killingsworth and Tucker. After scoring the first two points of the half on a short jumper, the sophomore didn't score again until almost five minutes later, but his defense on the interior helped Auburn to a ton of easy baskets on the offensive end.

With the officials calling almost every bump in a very physical game, Auburn spent much of the second half at the free throw line. While they didn't live up to their season average of 70 percent, they were able to make some early and when Davis made 1-2 to build the lead to 16 it looked as if the Tigers would run away with the game. A Tucker basket moments later at the 14:51 mark made the score 54-38 and Auburn had the game under control.

The lead got down to just 10 on a layup by Dustin Braddick just over one minute later, but from that point forward it was all Auburn. Six straight points, highlighted by two Daniels layups, pushed the lead back to 16. Auburn would build the lead to as many as 23 points late in the game before a late Willie Jones three-pointer made the final 85-65.

For the game Auburn shot 44.4 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from the line, making 24-36. Auburn was solid from the three-point line, making 5-17 for the game, but 0-8 in the second half. On the boards the Tigers outrebounded the Bulldogs 49-42, but gave up 19 offensive boards in the process.

In the first half Auburn used a 17-2 run to break open a close game early on the way to a comfortable halftime lead. With the game tied at 10 each the Tigers used a strong defensive effort to break away from the Bulldogs. With Davis out of the game with foul trouble, picking up his second with 15:11 remaining, the Tigers turned to Tucker and the junior college transfer responded with six first half points, including back-to-back baskets to make the score 22-12. A basket by Daniels, two more free throws from the senior and a free throw from Killingsworth made it 27-12 Auburn.

The Bulldogs would make a run at Auburn during the final 10 minutes of the half behind Malone Jr. Hitting consecutive three pointers along with baskets from Demeco Heath and Braddick, they cut the Auburn lead to just nine points at 34-25. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half with a Tucker basket followed to two Malone free throws making the score 46-33 at intermission.

Auburn returns to action Sunday at 3 p.m. when the Tigers are hoss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net South.

Tiger Ticket Extra: The 13 points and 10 rebounds for Kyle Davis gave him his first double-double of his Auburn career. The win was Auburn's 300th in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Auburn had 25 points off turnovers compared to just nine for South Carolina State and Auburn outscored the Bulldogs by 14 points in fast break opportunities.

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