Hot-Shooting Trojans Burn Tigers

The Tigers made a late rally, but fell short as Troy hung on for a victory at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Troy hit 13-25 three-point shots and 53.7 percent from the field as the Trojans defeated Auburn 81-77 in a non-conference basketball game on Friday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Senior guard Brandon Hazzard hit 9-14 field goals, including 7-10 treys, to lead Troy to its first-ever victory over the Tigers in 11 tries.

"I think it means a lot to beat a team like Auburn," said a jubilant Troy head coach, Don Maestri. "Obviously, they are an SEC program. It is an upset. You have to play really well and you have to hope they don't play as well or shoot it well, which happened tonight."

Maestri noted it wasn't Troy's first win over an SEC team. "We beat Arkansas a few years ago and we had a chance to beat Mississippi State," he said.

Auburn shot just 39.2 percent from the field hitting only 29-74 field goals. The Tigers were 8-31 on threes.

"The game right there was all about shooting the basketball," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, whose team fell to 4-4. "They shot the snot right out of it. We really couldn't hit the side of a barn. That was basically the difference in the game.

"We had 20 more shots than they did," Lebo added. "Twenty more without a discrepancy on the foul line. When you get the ball 20 more with it being even on the foul line that is like getting the ball 20 times more than your opponent...," the coach said. "You think you are going to win the game when you do that, but when you shoot it as poorly as we did...We didn't turn it over. We had 10 turnovers in the game, we just couldn't make shots."

Troy could make shots. The Trojans hit 29-54 field goals. The Trojans turned the ball over 23 times vs. an Auburn team that had nine steals and Troy held a 39-36 rebounding edge.

DeWayne Reed led the Tigers with 18 points. He had four assists, three turnovers and a steal. Fellow guard Frankie Sullivan scored 16 points while Tay Waller, who made his first start of the season coming back from an injury, added 12 points as did Lucas Hargrove.

Waller hit 5-11 field goals and 2-6 treys. Hargrove made just 4-16 field goals and was 1-8 on threes. He did lead the Tigers in rebounds with nine.

"This is unacceptable, unacceptable, unacceptable," Hargrove said. "I take full responsibility for this loss as a senior and a leader. We have got no excuses. I don't think they have a better team than us, but they were better tonight. Our leadership was not there. I am a senior and that is my fault--completely my fault."

The Tigers got nine points from Brendon Knox and seven points from Andre Malone.

Troy got 14 points and nine assists from guard Michael Vogler plus 12 points and 10 rebounds from Mississippi State transfer Richard Delk.

"It was an example of good team play," Maestri said of Troy's victory, adding that Hazzard picked a good time to come out of an early season shooting slump as Troy improved its record to 5-3.

Lebo said the Tigers did a "very, very, very poor" job of defending Hazzard, which he said was a point of emphasis in the game plan. "That was the biggest disappointment in the game," Lebo added. "He was terrific, now."

Freshman guard Andre Malone prepares to throw a pass.

Neither team could build a big lead in the first half. Troy led by as many as four in the first 20 minutes while Auburn led by six at the 7:54 mark, but Troy took the lead on a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the half by Vogler to make the score 40-38 at intermission.

Auburn hit just 15-40 first half field goals and was 3-16 on threes. Troy made 8-15 threes and was 15-28 from the field. Auburn forced 15 Troy turnovers in the first half while committing just five to keep the game close.

The Tigers fell behind by eight points with 11:19 to play on a tip-in by backup center Bernard Toombs to make the score 63-55.

The Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum crowd tried to spark the home team and had some success as the Tigers cut the gap to 63-61 on a fastbreak basket by Waller at the 10:08 mark. However, the Trojans held off that run and didn't lose the lead until 1:46 was left on a layup by Knox.

At the 1:23 mark Vogler put Troy back on top 75-74. After a missed trey by Sullivan, Hazzard hit a layup with 1:04 to play and Auburn couldn't catch the visitors.

The Tigers won't have long to prepare for their next game with the Virginia Cavaliers coming to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum for a Monday night game.

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