Fourth Straight Win for Lebo's Tigers

A pair of Georgians helped Auburn dawg UGA for another SEC victory for Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers.

Athens, Ga.--A pair of Georgians led Auburn to a 71-59 SEC men's basketball victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.

Junior guard Tay Waller led the Tigers in scoring with 20 points. His teammate at Manchester High School, senior forward Korvotney Barber, tied his career-high for rebounds with 18 and scored 11 points.

Auburn improved its record to 17-9 overall and 6-5 in the SEC with its fourth consecutive victory. The 6-5 mark is Auburn's best SEC record this late in the season since March of 2003. The four-game SEC winning streak is the longest for the Tigers since they won their first four league games during the 2002-2003 season.

The victory was Auburn's first in Athens since 1999 as the host Bulldogs fell to 10-16 overall and 1-10 in the SEC. It also ended a three-game losing streak in the series for Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers.

Auburn came out smoking in the first half, went cold after intermission and saw a 26-point halftime lead dwindle to 62-56 with 3:38 to play as Georgia got hot from three-point land in the second half. However, the Tigers regained their composure and took care of business in the final minutes to pull away for a 12-point victory.

"I thought the first half we were outstanding," Lebo said. "Both offensively and defensively we were very efficient. We were very balanced. Our start with Tay Waller obviously was big. I thought defensively we did a lot of nice things."

Jeff Lebo

Georgia held UGA star Terrance Woodbury to seven points on 2-10 shooting. For the game the Bulldogs made just 18-59 field goals for 30.7 percent while Auburn hit 45.8 percent of its shots.

The other major difference in the game was on the boards as the Tigers out-rebounded the taller Bulldogs 51-34. In addition to 18 from Barber, Lucas Hargrove chipped in with 10 rebounds to go with his eight points.

Rasheem Barrett, DeWayne Reed, Frankie Sullivan and Quantez Robertson each scored eight points for the Tigers and Robertson added six rebounds.

Auburn was so dominant on the boards that enabled the Tigers to win on the road despite a horrible free throw shooting performance. Auburn hit just 14-29 attempts at the foul line with Barber the leading offender as he made just 3-11. UGA made 13-21 free throws.

"I thought we were active rebounding the ball, especially in the first half," Lebo said. "It was a great win for us."

Auburn finished the game with 16 turnovers, four more than Georgia and hit 7-21 threes while the Bulldogs made 10-29 threes.

Waller set the first half tone with two quick three-pointers to put the Tigers on top 6-0 when UGA interim head coach Pete Hermann called a timeout. The strategy, if it worked at all, didn't help for long.

With Auburn leading 10-5 the Tigers scored six uncontested points.

With Auburn leading 16-7, the Tigers scored 22 straight points before the Bulldogs broke the drought. Waller got the Auburn streak started with another three-pointer with 12:44 on the clock. Georgia didn't score until Trey Thompkins hit a layup with 5:32 on the clock to cut Auburn's lead to 35-9.

Georgia finally got cranked up offensively in the closing minutes of the first half, but Auburn continued to score and led 45-19 at intermission.

Auburn built its big first half lead by shooting 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes. The Tigers hit 17-34 field goals while limiting UGA to 26.3 percent shooting as the Bulldogs made just 7-26 field goals.

The Tigers were excellent from long range in the first half making 7-15 threes with Waller leading the way. The junior from Manchester, Ga., nailed 4-8 threes on his way to scoring 15 first half points.

Georgia hit just 2-12 threes in the first half.

Auburn's only problem area in the first half was free throw shooting as the Tigers made just 4-11, but managed to outscore the Bulldogs at the foul line. UGA hit 3-5.

The Tigers dominated the rebounding holding a 27-15 advantage on the boards and that went a long way toward explaining AU's big lead at the break. Barber, was a monster on the boards in the first half with 11.

Auburn also took care of the basketball in the first half with just five turnovers while UGA had twice as many.

Senior Quantez Robertson drives to the basket for the Tigers. He won praise for his play from Coach Jeff Lebo.

Auburn's biggest lead in the half was 29 with the Tigers on top 38-9 following another three-pointer by Waller.

The Tigers came out sluggishly in the second half and Corey Butler got the home team jump-started with a three to start the second period.

Georgia steadily cut into Auburn's lead in the second half when the Tigers didn't make a three-pointer in the final 20 minutes while Georgia drilled eight second-half trays.

After Ricky McPhee hit two free throws to trim the lead to 62-56 with 3:38 left, Auburn allowed the home team just three more points. The Tigers built the lead back to double figures on an old-fashioned three-point play by Barrett with 58 seconds to ice the game.

"I was very proud of the way we responded when they made the run," Lebo said. "We made a couple of big plays in crucial times."

Waller agreed with Lebo.

"The first half, we came out shooting the ball pretty well," Waller said. "On the road, you need to shoot the ball well to win. The second half we tried to slow it up a little bit and that is not our style really. As you can tell, we let the lead slip away and with five minutes to go we picked it back up and we started back playing Auburn basketball."

The Tigers will return to action with a 7 p.m. road contest on Saturday vs. SEC West leader LSU. LSU was a 72-69 winner at Arkansas on Wednesday night as the Bayou Bengals rallied from an 18-point deficit to improve to 22-4 overall and 10-1 in the SEC.

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