Tigers Struggle Early to Drop Second Straight

Auburn never fully recovered from a slow start and lost in Daytona Beach on Friday evening to UCF.

Daytona Beach, Fla.--Auburn struggled for most of the game offensively before making a late run that came up short as the Tigers fell 84-74 to Central Florida on Friday night at the Ocean Center in the Glenn Wilkes Classic.

Auburn dropped to 1-2 while Central Florida improved to 3-0.

Coach Jeff Lebo's basketball team wasted a good performance from sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan, who led all scorers with 22 points. However, he didn't get enough help from his teammates against a UCF team that put five players into double figures in the scoring column.

"It was just a frustrating night here," Lebo said. "We couldn't get anything going offensively until the end."

Sullivan made 10-10 foul shots and he tied for the team lead in rebounding with six. Sullivan added three assists and three steals and turned the ball over four times.

As a team the Tigers made 11-17 free throws to 31-40 for UCF, which shot 52.1 percent from the field while the Tigers hit 38.2. Central Florida out-rebounded Auburn 38-32.

DeWayne Reed added 15 points for the Tigers and Lucas Hargrove scored 12. Reed hit 6-14 field goals and finished with five assists and four turnovers. Hargrove made 5-13 and added four rebounds.

A.J. Tyler, a 6-9 transfer from Clemson, led UCF in scoring with 19 points while Dave Diakite and Taylor Young each scored 12 points..

"We didn't get anything from our five spot and that really hurt us," Lebo said. "Their five man, Tyler, had 19 (points) and eight (rebounds) in 25 minutes and our five man (Brendon) Knox had zero points and zero rebounds in 13 minutes so we got dominated there."

Jeff Lebo wasn't happy much of the game in Daytona Beach as he reacts to a play vs. UCF.

The Auburn coach went to a smaller lineup and increased the defensive pressure into the backcourt in the comeback attempt. "Our best lineup was when we had all guards," Lebo said. "Those guys at the end really competed hard and made some plays, made some shots finally and did some good things at the end."

As was the case in the other regular season games, freshman Earnest Ross filled in for starting two guard Tay Waller, who is still unable to play with a quadriceps injury. Ross scored nine points and added six rebounds

Auburn was down 13-0 before Reed hit a three-point shot and began cutting into the lead. The Tigers pulled to within four at 21-17 on a fastbreak basket by Sullivan to cap a 7-0 run. However, the rest of the half the Tigers struggled on offense and found themselves down 41-24 at halftime.

Reed scored eight first half points and Sullivan added seven for an Auburn team that was out-rebounded 20-11 in the first period.

Using full court pressure the Tigers trim the lead to 51-44 at the 14:20 mark on a fastbreak basket by Reed. Auburn cut the gap to six on a three by Ross to make the score 53-47. However, the Knights weathered the storm and took the lead back into double figures with a 19-5 run as the Tigers went cold from the field. That was the ball game for Lebo's team as the Knights built the lead to 21 points before Auburn made its late charge.

The Tigers made the final score more respectable by hitting five treys in the closing minutes and cut the lead to 78-71 the closing minute, but it was too little, too late.

Lebo said he saw some positive signs from his team, but not enough. "One thing I have prided myself on here, our kids we have always competed hard. We have junkyard dogs. I'don't think all of us played like junkyard dogs tonight."

The Auburn coach said he liked what he saw from Sullivan and noted that Reed "was more under control than he was the other night" at the point guard spot. Lebo added that Ross showed progress, too. "He had three assists without a turnover and you like to see that--nine points out of your freshman," he added.

Auburn will return to action to action at 5 p.m. CST time on Saturday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach vs. IUPUI. The Tigers will finish play in the Glenn Wilkes Classic on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CST vs. North Carolina State.

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