Clutch Plays Push Tigers Past Tide--Again

Auburn extended its men's basketball winning streak vs. Alabama with a victory on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn, Ala.--DeWayne Reed, who was having his most down game of a season of ups and downs for the senior point guard, came through with a steal in the backcourt in the closing seconds to set up the winning free throw by fellow senior Lucas Hargrove to give Auburn a hard-fought 58-57 SEC men's basketball victory over Alabama.

Hargrove, who was fouled as he was shooting a layup which he missed, hit the front end of two free throws with 3.1 seconds left after the game officials checked the monitor and added two seconds to the game clock that had read 1.1 seconds remaining.

Alabama got the rebound on the second free throw and called a timeout with 2.7 seconds remaining. The Tide threw a pass into the front court that was batted out of bounds by Auburn sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan.

"Hargrove said he was glad to see Reed make a big play at the end of the game even though he struggled earlier in the contest at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum where 10,775 fans watched the rivalry on Saturday. "I didn't want to say my teammate had a bad game, but it was a little tough," Hargrove admitted. "He's a senior and he's a senior in his last "Iron Bowl" home game and he came up big and that is what we needed from him."

It was Auburn's fourth consecutive victory in the series and evened the Tigers at 11-11 for the season. Auburn is now 2-5 in the SEC.

Alabama fell to 13-8 overall and 3-4 in the league in Anthony Grant's first chance to face the Tigers as head coach of the Tide.

"I thought we defended very, very well in this game for 40 minutes," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "They didn't score very much against our halfcourt defense. We had some turnovers that resulted in some points against them."

Alabama's Grant didn't have much to say after the loss, but several times he gave the Tigers credit for making the plays they needed to win the game.

"For us it was too many turnovers, too little defense," pointed out Grant, whose team turned the ball over 19 times, four more than Auburn.

"In the second half I thought we had opportunities and we didn't take advantage of those opportunities," Grant added. "Auburn deserves a lot of credit for taking advantage of those opportunities."

With the exception of Auburn's Tay Waller, nobody had a strong offensive performance in a game that was dominated by defense from start to finish.

Tay Waller soars for two points for the Tigers.

Waller led all scorers with 20 points. The senior guard hit 8-12 field goals and had all three of Auburn's three-pointers. Waller added five rebounds and four of Auburn's 11 steals while playing tough defense.

"This was one of my best overall games," Waller said. "It was about time it came because everyone was waiting for me to have the offense and defense come together. I think it did today and it feels good."

In contrast, Reed hit 2-9 field goals, was 6-11 at the foul line and turned the ball over six times while finishing with 10 points, one assist and two steals.

Hargrove scored 14 points and added four rebounds and a pair of steals. Sullivan contributed with eight points, five rebounds and three steals.

Defenses dominated the opening half. Reed scored the first points of the game almost three minutes into the action as the Tigers took a 7-0 lead before Alabama put the ball in the basket with 15:09 on the clock.

The Tide took its first lead at 13-12 on a tip-in midway through the half. The lead changed hands throughout the rest of the half with the Tide taking a 27-24 edge at the break.

Auburn hit just 8-23 field goals for 34.8 percent in the first 20 minutes and the Tigers were 1-7 on threes and 7-12 at the free throw line.

Alabama hit 10-29 field goals (34.8 percent) in the first half and was also 1-7 on threes. The Tigers were 6-7 at the foul line and held an 18-17 edge in rebounds while both teams had seven turnovers apiece.

The Tide built the lead to 40-33 at the 13:38 with a pair of fastbreak baskets before Lebo called a timeout. Auburn then responded with a run of its own and tied the game at 40-40 with 10:54 to play as Waller nailed a three from the corner on a pass from Hargrove.

With 9:52 left Reed put the Tigers up 41-40 as he hit the second of two free throws. The game stayed tight the rest of the way.

With Alabama up by four points, Hargrove made one of the clutch plays of the game with a basket at the 2:02 mark as he was fouled inside to the cut lead to 57-56 with the old-fashioned three-point play.

After both teams failed to score on a possession, Auburn got ball back after Mikhail Torrance missed the front end of a one-and-one with 21.9 seconds left.

Reed saw an opening to the lane and was fouled with 12 seconds left. He made the first free throw to tie the game at 57-57, but missed the second one. That set up his dramatic steal at the end of the game and pass to Hargrove.

Lebo said that Reed took a risk going for the steal in the closing seconds, but the coach wasn't complaining. "It wasn't protocol, but he made a great play on the ball by chasing it down and getting it to Lucas," Lebo said. "Just to make it interesting, he didn't make the layup for me and the (second) foul shot. We can make it get like a dental chair out there for me."

Hargrove said that he enjoyed the win that was hard-fought. "This is the best Alabama defensive team I have played against," the senior said.

Chuck Person (left), Auburn's all-time leading scorer, and other members of the 1985 SEC Tournament championship team were honored on Saturday. Coach Sonny Smith is shown with Person.

For the game the shooting was very close. Auburn made 20-47 field goals for 42.6 percent to the Tide's 41.2 percent on 21-51 field goals. Alabama made 4-15 threes.

Auburn made 15-25 free throws while Alabama hit 11-15. The Tiger enjoyed a 33-29 edge in rebounds.

Alabama was led in scoring by Torrance's 13 points. JyMychal Green scored 10 as did Senario Hillman.

Auburn, which has won six of its last seven games vs. the Tide, doesn't play again until next Saturday when the Tigers travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 12:30 p.m. CST.

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