Hot-Shooting Tigers Get Road Victory at Ole Miss

Marquis Daniels and the Tigers put on a show shooting the basketball on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

Oxford, Miss.--Marquis Daniels scored 29 points as the Tigers held off a late rally to take their third SEC road victory of the season with an 80-75 basketball win on Saturday vs. the Ole Miss Rebels.

Daniels, who hit 12-14 field goals, got Auburn off to a strong start. The Tigers never trailed, but Ole Miss used a 13-4 run to tie the contest at 68-68 with 4:56 left.

Auburn built the lead back to four at 75-71 on a pair of free throws by Daniels with 2:14 to play, but the Rebels pulled even again with 1:28 to play on a three-pointer from the corner by Aaron Harper, who led the home team with 20 points.

Marquis Daniels

The Tigers then took the lead for good with 58 seconds left to play as Daniels hit Marco Killingsworth inside on a baseline inbounds pass. Killingsworth, who slammed home a basket with a dunk, put the Tigers ahead for good with his 17th point. His second slam dunk in the final minute, also on an assist from Daniels, iced the victory for the Tigers who improved to 18-7 overall and 7-5 in the SEC.

The Tigers are now a half-game behind Mississippi State in the SEC West with the Bulldogs having a tough Sunday road trip to Kentucky so there is a good chance that the Tigers could pull into a tie for first place.

"The last two games we came out very sluggish, but tonight we wanted to set the tone on defense and be aggressive," Daniels said. "On offense we wanted to let the shots come and the shot was going for me to tonight." Daniels hit his first 11 shots before he had a miss.

The Tigers, who had been in a horrendous shooting slump after leading the SEC in that category much of the season, snapped their two-game losing streak with brilliant marksmanship. Auburn hit 16-22 first half shots for a sizzling 72.7 percent. The Tigers made 58.3 percent in the second half to finish the game at 65.2 percent.

Auburn needed to shoot well because the home team was hot, too. The Rebels made 53.8 percent of their shots, including 10-21 three-pointers.

Chris Lollar contributed 13 important minutes at point guard for the Tigers.

Auburn coach Cliff Ellis called the win a true team victory and said big plays from reserves such as Chris Lollar, Donny Calton, Rodney Tucker and Nathan Watson were essential in producing the victory. "This game was won as a team because our bench was a major factor," Ellis said.

The win also put the Tigers back on track to qualify for an NCAA Tournament berth. "We put ourselves in great position," Ellis said.

The Tigers played the game without sophomore forward Brandon Robinson, who watched from the bench while nursing an ankle sprain that he re-injured in Friday's practice. Point guard Lewis Monroe played with a toe sprain that limited his mobility. It didn't hurt his shooting. He was three of three on treys as he scored nine points.

Derrick Bird

Another Tiger who has been in a shooting slump, senior guard Derrick Bird, was three of three from the field and two of two at the free throw line where the Tigers made 14-18 attempts. Ole Miss hit 9-12 free throws and held a 24-20 rebounding edge in a game in which there weren't a lot of missed shots to rebound.

Each team had 16 turnovers and the Tigers blocked four shots while Ole Miss blocked just one as the Rebels slipped to 12-11 overall and 3-9 in the SEC.

Auburn travels to LSU for a 7 p.m. game at the Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night.

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