Tardy Tiger Benched As Vandy Defeats Auburn

Hot-shooting Vandy was too much for the Jeff Lebo's Tigers to deal with on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn wasted Rasheem Barrett's best performance of the season and a chance to move up in the SEC West men's basketball race on Saturday as Vanderbilt hit key clutch shots to take an 82-75 victory at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Barrett said it was one of those games when it felt like everything he shot was going in the basket. He finished the contest with a career-high 29 points. However, the bigger story for the Tigers on Saturday was a player who didn't start or finish the contest.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo benched starting point guard and leading scorer DeWayne Reed for being tardy. He let Reed play three minutes in the first half, but benched him again saying he didn't like the junior's energy. Reed didn't return to action, but will be allowed to play in the next game, the coach said.

A guard who did have plenty of energy was Vandy's Jermaine Beal. He broke out of a shooting slump in a big way vs. the Tigers. He hit seven three-pointers on the way to a career-high 21 points.

That led a slumping Vandy team to just its second SEC victory in seven outings. The Commodores improved to 13-8 overall. Auburn is also 13-8 and fell to 2-4 in the SEC.

Barrett said the last time he played a game like that was as a freshman. "I just came out feeling it a little bit," he said. "The goal seems this big," he added, spreading his arms in a wide arc. "It feels like everything you throw up is going in."

The senior pointed out that despite his good performance, the loss hurt. "That was very disappointing," he said, noting that the Commodores had knocked Auburn out of the SEC Tournament twice in his career and whipped Auburn last year in Nashville.

"It was almost like a personal game for me myself and a couple of seniors," Barrett said. "We tried to come out there and play with high intensity. They just outplayed us and played a real good game."

Commenting on the benching of Reed, the team's leading scorer and leading assist man, Barrett said, "I look at him as my younger brother. I am going to talk to him and get on him about that and let him know there are certain things you can't do when you are part of a team...He has got to know that everything he does, good or bad, reflects on us and it hurts us."

An obviously irritated Lebo said little about Reed. "That was our leading scorer so we played Quantez Robertson at the point the whole game--37 minutes for Robertson. It messes up your rotations when you don't play because you are used to having them out there. It is a heck of a lesson to learn for our team, no doubt about that."

DeWayne Reed

Vandy coach Kevin Stallings didn't know what was happening with Reed until after the game, but noted his absence helped the Commodores win.

"The only choice you have is to do what Jeff did," Stallings said, adding, "I feel really badly for Jeff because those things are very unnecessary, but you can't control that as a coach."

Auburn couldn't control Vandy's point guard either. Stallings said that Beal played "great." Lebo agreed.

"Beal was tremendous," Lebo said. "Coming into the game he was 6-26 (on threes) in SEC play. He made seven of eight and three crucial ones in the second half when we made a run. Give them credit. Offensively, I thought they were good."

Vandy shot 60.9 percent from the field. Auburn wasn't bad either, making 50 percent of its shots. However, the foul line was again an issue with the Tigers making just 7-15 with many of the misses coming late in the game. Vandy, normally a good foul shooting team, made just 16-31 free throw attempts.

Auburn had just 10 turnovers with Reed watching, four fewer than the Commodores.

"I thought we played a very solid game, especially in light of the fact we were down coming in," Stallings said.

Stallings point out that he liked the way his team rebounded with the Commodores enjoyed a 35-22 rebounding advantage.

The Tigers came out slow and didn't get going offensively until dropping behind by double-digits. The Commodores built the lead to as many as 13 points when Jermaine Beal hit a three-pointer to make the score 36-23.

However, Auburn rallied on inside baskets by Lucas Hargrove, Johnnie Lett and Barber, who added a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the gap to 39-30.

Three-pointers by Barrett and Frankie Sullivan narrowed the Vandy halftime lead to 41-36.

New Auburn football coach Gene Chizik was introduced to the crowd of 6,896 on Saturday and got a big cheer.

The Commodores shot 57.7 percent in the first half to 42.4 percent for the Tigers, who were out-rebounded 18-15 in the first 20 minutes. Auburn had five turnovers in the first half while Vandy committed six.

Barrett carried the first half scoring load for the Tigers with 14 points as he hit 4-5 threes. Beal led Vandy in scoring at intermission with nine points.

In the second half the Tigers finally caught the visitors at 43-43 on a three-pointer by Tay Waller.

Auburn took the first lead at the 16:21 mark on a three by Barrett to move ahead 48-45.

The game stay close the rest of the way. Vandy stretched its lead to 70-64 with 4:45 left on a layup by A.J. Ogilvy, but Auburn tied the game on back to back threes from the corner by Lucas Hargrove.

Vandy responded with two threes by Beal and held on for the victory when Brad Tinsley nailed a three with 36 seconds left to put Vandy up 80-75.

Barber scored 12 points and led Auburn in rebounds with eight. Hargrove scored 11 for the Tigers.

Barrett scored his game-high 29 points by hit 10-17 field goals, 5-10 threes and 4-4 free throws.

Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor scored 14 apiece for Vandy and Tinsley added 13.

Auburn returns to action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. playing Ole Miss in Oxford.

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