Reed a Key for Tigers' Success

The improved play of point guard DeWayne Reed has played a huge part in the Tigers' turnaround.

It's hard to get very far in March without solid guard play, and that's what Auburn is getting out of its leader at the point DeWayne Reed.

The Tigers are obviously playing their best basketball in a long, long time, and the same could be said of Reed. In the last five games, the junior point guard has had just three turnovers.

"I talked to my high school coach," Reed says, "and he was telling me, ‘Just be patient. Get everybody involved. Penetrate and pass and get everybody involved and you'll get yours.' That's basically what I've been doing, is letting the game come to me."

Reed's assist to turnover ratio was 1.17 as a sophomore and he has upped it to 1.57 as a junior. His assist/turnover is 4.33 the last five games.

"He has had a great year for us," head coach Jeff Lebo says. "He has been consistent for the most part this year. I think that has been key. He is playing the most minutes for us and he is leading us in scoring, and his assists to turnovers has really improved this year.

Defensively, he has been much better," Lebo says. "I think him and Bo Spencer have been two of the most improved guys, maybe, in the SEC. He has been really solid for the most part almost every night out."

Not only with ball security and getting his teammates involved, Reed has shown marked improvement with his shooting from last season to this season. His overall field goal percentage improved from 34.6 to 38.6, behind the arc he's gone from 29.7 percent to 32.5, and even at the free throw line he's improved his percentage from .582 to .644.

"I've just been in the gym a little longer after practice, and I get here early ready to shoot before practice and after practice," Reed notes. "I've just been working hard on my jump shots."

He's also been the leading scorer for the Tigers this year at 13.1 per game.

"I just want to win," Reed says. "I've been wanting to win. Now that I'm playing a little more I'm playing with more confidence. We've got a couple of seniors and that's helped us out and to get me right. Every time I get off track they tell me, ‘We need you, man. We're trying to win,' and that keeps me focused every time they tell me that."

One of those seniors, Rasheem Barrett, has noticed a different Reed this year.

"He's improved so much," Barrett says. "He's improved on the court and off the court, relationship-wise, his temperament has gotten a lot better with how he interacts with the players, and he's more calm on the court. He's smarter. He knows what to do in situations.

"We always say in practice that the point guard on the court is like the quarterback on the football field," Barrett adds. "He's basically a leader on the court. He gives you plays and he's sees everything that's going on. Lebo calls the play out, but if he sees something else he has the ability to change it.

"And DeWayne plays great defense," Barrett adds. "When DeWayne starts off on the point guard playing intensified and great defense it turns everybody up. Everybody gets to moving and everybody gets going. It's very important for your point guard to lead the team, be very active and outgoing."

DeWayne Reed can penetrate as well as shoot the three.

Auburn was 13-9 and 2-5 in SEC before going on an eight out of nine winning streak to close the regular season. Freshman Frankie Sullivan says that Reed has been a difference maker down the stretch.

"I think he's become more of a leader at the point guard position," Sullivan notes. "He's telling us what to do on the floor and demanding it. I think that's a great focus from your point guard."

Now at 21-10, 10-6 in the SEC and getting a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers are on the NCAA bubble. An invitation to the NCAA Tournament will depend on other games around the country as to how many games Auburn needs to win in Tampa, but a victory over Arkansas or Florida is probably a must no matter what happens in other games.

"It would mean a lot," Reed says about a possible NCAA bid. "For our seniors, we feel like they're working hard and they've been trying to work hard to get to this point."

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