Tiger Guards Lead Auburn Past Ole Miss

Jeff Lebo's Tigers continued their streak of well played games with a win over Ole Miss as DeWayne Reed and Tay Waller led the charge.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's quickness trumped the power of the Ole Miss Rebels as the Tigers took a 77-64 SEC men's basketball victory on Wednesday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Ole Miss turned the ball over 23 times in the game to just 10 for the Tigers, who improved to 18-10 overall and 7-6 in the SEC.

"I was awfully proud of the way we defended in the second half," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, whose Tigers allowed the Rebels to hit just 1-17 field goals to open the second half of play.

Combined with the Tigers scoring the final three points of the first half on a long-range, high degree of difficulty bomb by Quantez Robertson as time expired, the home team outscored Ole Miss 29-10 to take command of the game after trailing the entire first half.

A big reason why the Tigers trailed the first half was the rebounding. The Rebels had a dozen more boards at the break than the Tigers.

"Coach just stressed boxing out," said senior forward Korvotney Barber, who led the Tigers with 13 rebounds while adding 12 points. "The whipped us on the boards the first game at Ole Miss. They were more physical than us."

Auburn out-rebounded the taller Rebels by four in the second half. Combine that with the turnover differential with the Tigers have 13 fewer than Ole Miss for the game and it added up to a win for the Tigers against an Ole Miss team that fell to 6-7 in the SEC and 15-12 overall.

"Watching film on them we thought we could pressure them a lot more than we did before," Robertson said. "That is what we tried to do the whole game is pressure the ball and make them hurry the offense."

In the first matchup this year at Ole Miss, Auburn guard Tay Waller was held scoreless. However, this time he was Auburn's second leading scorer with 18 points. "I was more aggressive this game," he said.

The junior was particularly aggressive to start the second half by quickly turning an Auburn four-point deficit into an advantage with seven quick points.

On Auburn's first possession he nailed a three-point bomb and was fouled and made the free throw. He then added another three behind a screen from Barber and the Tigers took the lead for good at 43-40 with 19:03 left in the second half.

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy called a timeout, but it didn't slow Auburn's momentum. The Tigers built their lead with defense. The shooting was nothing to get excited about as the Tigers made just 38.7 percent of their field goals, but Ole Miss made just 37.0 percent.

The Tigers got their lead into double digits at the 9:14 mark on a fastbreak slam dunk by Waller to make the score 55-45.

At the 5:55 mark the lead grew to 66-50 as DeWayne Reed, who led the Tigers with 19 points, hit a fastbreak layup and was fouled and converted the free throw.

Reed was 6-12 from the field, added three assists with three steals and had no turnovers. Lebo said the junior was "very solid" and noted it was a second straight game without a turnover for the guard, who was turnover-prone his first two seasons.

"I thought obviously the second half defensively we were better," Lebo said. "They made some shots the first half. They shoot it quick. I was awfully proud of the way we defended the second half. Korvotney Barber was terrific."

Lebo also said he liked the way the Tigers attacked the Ole Miss 2-3 zone in the second half by getting the ball to senior Rasheem Barrett, who scored 10 points. The coach also liked his team's improved play on the boards after halftime. "We did a much better job rebounding," he said. "They crushed us on the glass in the first half. They crushed us on the glass in the first half."

Barber agreed that the better play on the boards was a key. "We had to come out and play more aggressively than we did in the first half," he said. "The rebounding was something like 22-10."

Malcolm White was a big problem for the Tigers on the boards. He pulled down 18 in the game, but scored just four points. Terrico White led the Rebels and all scorers with 24 points, but missed 15 of his 23 field goals.

Malcolm White of Ole Miss delivers a blow to the side of Lucas Hargrove's head as the Auburn junior tried a slam dunk. White was called for a foul.

Ole Miss got 15 points apiece from David Huertas and Zach Graham.

For the game Auburn hit 24-62 field goals while Ole MIss made 20-54. Auburn was 7-25 on threes while Ole Miss hit 9-28. At the foul line the Tigers made 22-29 while Ole Miss hit 15-16.

Kennedy admitted his Ole Miss team looked flustered when the Tigers made their run early in the second half and did some on the court bickering. "We didn't handle it very well," he said.

Kennedy also noted that his team's negative assists to turnover ratio, 9/23, made it tough to win an SEC game, especially on the road.

"They came out and attacked us right from the go," Kennedy said of the Tigers. "We had talked about making sure that Tay Waller doesn't get into a groove because he is averaging around 18 points per game over the last five games and that has taken their team to another level. We let him get his 18 points, the majority of them in the second half, and that really helped to extend their lead."

Auburn's formula for first half success has often been Waller getting hot from three-point range. However, that didn't happen on Wednesday night. The junior guard didn't hit his first three until 7:52 was left in the first half to cut the Ole Miss lead to 26-23.

The Rebels had led 24-16 at the 10:21 mark on a pair of free throws by White before the Tigers cut the lead to two on a Reed layup with 5:50 left in the half.

Ole Miss stretched its first half lead to as many as nine points in the first half, but the Tigers cut the lead to 40-36 when Quantez Robertson's long-range desperation shot beat the buzzer.

At halftime the Tigers were within striking range thanks to half as many turnovers as the Rebels, who committed 12. Ole Miss dominated the boards and hit 50 percent of its first half shots compared to 40.6 percent for the Tigers.

In the second half the Tigers limited Ole Miss to 25 percent field goal shooting and outscored the visitors 41-24 to take the double-digit victory.

Graham said the Rebels expected Auburn to play with intensity after the Tigers played poorly against the Rebels in Oxford.

"Yeah, but we knew that already coming to Auburn because Coach Kennedy told us they have a lot of seniors on their team and this was their last go around. We knew they were going to give us a fight anyway."

Since losing at Ole Miss on Feb. 4th, Auburn is 5-1.

The Tigers hit the court again on Saturday for a 5 p.m. game at Mississippi State that will be televised by Fox Sports South.

Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson (left) sits with Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs (right) at Wednesday night's basetball game.

Basketball Notes: Ole Miss won the first matchup 78-59 in Oxford on Feb. 4th...With the game designated a "whiteout" for the Tigers, Lebo's team wore their white uniforms and many in the crowd of 5,357 wore white...At halftime the SEC champion men's swimming and diving team was introduced...The win was Auburn's 15th this season at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, which ties the school record for the most wins at home in a single season since the arena opened...Former Tiger football star Bo Jackson was in the crowd for the game.

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