Vot's Hot As Tigers Top Bears In Opener

A report on Auburn's season-opening men's basketball 75-60 victory is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn basketball Tigers won 75-60 on opening night, but let Missouri State stay within striking distance until late in the game in the regular season opener for both teams on Friday night.

With Korvotney Barber leading the way making 10-14 field goals, the Tigers shot 56 percent from the field, but an old problem from seasons past, poor free throw shooting, plagued the Tigers throughout the game.

Barber, known for being the team's worst foul shooter in the past three seasons, was one of the better ones on Friday night as he made 2-3. As a team the Tigers made 14 free throws and missed 14 free throws.

Barber led all scorers with 22 points, which matched his career high. He added five rebounds, two blocked shots and one assist in 31 minutes of court time. He also admitted to being exhausted after the game because the Bears used a lot of shot clock on most possessions and made the Tigers spend a good part of the game defending their motion offense.

"It went pretty good, but they are real good team," Barber said. "They made us defend like the whole shot clock so I was kind of winded. I think we did pretty good as a team overall. Free throws killed us tonight. We missed a lot of free throws.

"I think we did pretty good on the offensive end," he said. "We had a couple of breakdowns on the defensive end. We have practice at 8:30 in the morning. I am pretty sure we are going to do a lot of defensive drills."

Asked about his team's troubles at the foul line, Barber said the Tigers hadn't been having problems shooting them in practice. "Some of our people get too anxious at the free throw line--how I used to be--but I try to block everybody out now and just concentrate on making free throws," he said.

Newcomer Tay Waller scored 14 points for the Tigers and was joined in double figures by Lucas Hargrove with 13 points and newcomer Brendon Knox with 10.

Missouri State, which hit 11-23 threes including seven of its first nine treys in the second half, was led by 18 points from Chris Cooks while Spencer Laurie and Cardell McFarland added 14 points apiece.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said, "Obviously their game plan was making us defend for long periods of time, which they did. Defensively, for most of the game we did an outstanding job. They only had 20 field goals, 11 from three, and some of those were very, very tough shots from the three-point line.

"I told our team at halftime it was like a 40-minute defensive drill," Lebo said. "They didn't like it too much, but I liked it. It was good for us to play a team like this that is disciplined and tough.

"We shot poorly from the foul line or else I thought we won have won easily," Lebo said. Asked if he knew what the problem was, Lebo responded, "I wish I knew. I would fix it."

Auburn jumped to an early 6-2 lead with three inside baskets by Korvotney Barber, but the Bears caught Auburn at the 14:20 mark and moved ahead 10-9 on a three-pointer by Spencer Laurie.

Missouri State led 19-12 at the 10:20 mark on a three-pointer by Chris Cooks, but Auburn scored 11 unanswered points to regain the lead with the help of back-to-back threes by Tay Waller.

The Tigers steadily built the margin to 34-25 by halftime.

Lucas Hargrove celebrates after a one-handed slam dunk.

The Tigers built their lead to 12 points early in the second half after a pair of free throws by Knox to make the score 45-33, but the Bears got hot on threes and narrowed the gap to 52-51 with on a trey by Spencer with just over nine minutes left to play.

However, that was as close as the visitors would get as Auburn steadily stretched its lead with baskets by DeWayne Reed, Knox and Waller along with an old-fashioned three-point play by Barber that put the Tigers up 63-53 with 5:14 to play.

Auburn's defense then took control of the game allowing the visitors just seven more points the rest of the way.

For the game, the Tigers hit 28-50 shots while the Bears made 20-45 for 44.4 percent from the field for the first ever meeting between Auburn and Missouri State in basketball as a crowd of 5,148 watched at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn out-rebounded the Bears 33-26 an had 13 turnovers, three less than Missouri State.

Auburn Basketball Notes: Junior guard DeWayne Reed suffered an ankle sprain late in the game...The Tigers dominated the inside play, outscoring the Bears 42-14 on points in the paint. "We got the ball in there to him (Barber) a good bit inside," Lebo said. "I thought Brendon Knox made some good plays inside when he caught the ball in the low post."...Auburn used 11 players, including Rasheem Barrett, who played seven minutes but was ineffective after missing most of preseason practice with a groin injury...Johnnie Lett started his first Auburn game and scored three points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes...Quantez Robertson had an off night shooting, going 2-6 from the field and 2-7 at the foul line.

Box Score

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories