Turnover-Prone Tigers Struggle on the Road

Despite a strong performance from senior Lucas Hargrove, Auburn lost its road opener at Missouri State on Monday night.

Springfield, Mo.--Lucas Hargrove scored 24 points, but that wasn't enough to help the turnover-plagued Auburn basketball Tigers win at Missouri State on Monday night.

The Tigers led much of the first half, but lost control of the contest in the closing minutes of the period and never recovered as they fell to 1-1 with a 73-62 setback to 1-0 Missouri State.

Auburn finished the game with 25 turnovers and eight assists. The Bears struggled with their ball-handling, too, turning it over 19 times.

The Tigers got 12 points and three assists from senior point guard DeWayne Reed, but the senior had seven turnovers. Auburn's next leading scorer, sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan, finished with nine points, but made just 1-7 field goals.

For the game the Tigers made just 22-54 field goals to finish at 40.7 percent. The Bears hit 26-61 shots to finish at 42.6 percent.

The Tigers made 5-24 threes while Missouri State hit 6-19. At the foul line the Tigers were 13-22 while the home team made 15-20 free throws.

Adam Leonard, who hit four treys, led the Bears with 14 points and Kyle Weems added 13 points.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said, "Turnovers were the difference in the game. We didn't shoot very well. Early, we got better looks than we probably did in the second half. I didn't think we were real poised, especially in the first half."

Hargrove bounced back from a poor opening night performance. "He was focused," Lebo said. "He was the lone bright spot on the team. Reed struggled a little defensively on the road with the ball screens and Frankie struggled offensively. We struggle as a team offensively i those guys don't step up and make plays."

Hargrove was 9-15 from the field. He was 3-8 on treys, 3-5 at the fou line and added six rebounds with four assists.

"We had too many turnovers," Hargrove said. "In a game like this, we really missed Vot (Barber), Rasheem (Barrett) and Tez (Robertson) and seniors with experience. We have a lot of inexperienced players on the team and as seniors, we have to step it up and pick up the slack."

As was the case in the opening night victory over Niagara, starting guard Tay Waller did not play. The senior didn't make the road trip to get treatment on his bruised quadriceps. The Tigers are hoping to get him back for Friday's game vs. the University of Central Florida.

Auburn led by as much as seven points on a Hargrove three-pointer to put the Tigers up 18-11. However, the lead disappeared quickly during a 12-4 by the home that caused Lebo to call a timeout with 6:09 left before intermission with the Bears on top 23-22 to the delight of a crowd of 7,312 watching the action in Springfield.

Missouri State stretched the lead to 32-24 before Earnest Ross slowed the momentum with a three-pointer and another jump shot for two. At halftime the Tigers trailed 36-31.

Hargrove led the Tigers in the first half with seven points, three rebounds and three assists, but the Tigers hit just 11-30 field goals (36.7 percent) to 14-33 (42.4 percent) for the home team. Auburn hit 3-15 threes in the first half and the Bears made 2-9. Auburn was 6-6 at the free throw line and Missouri State hit 6-8. The Tigers led on the boards 22-18 at halftime.

The Bears built the margin into double digits with a 7-0 run early in the second half to stretch the lead to 48-36. Auburn was never able to make a run at home team after that allowing Missouri State to avenge last year's 15-point loss at Auburn.

"Defensively, I?thought we did some good things, especially in the first half," Lebo said. "Where they hurt us was off of our turnovers. In our half court set I?thought we defended them pretty well."

Auburn returns to action on Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla., vs. Central Florida and will play IUPUI?there on Saturday and N.C. State in the same venue on Sunday.

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