Jan. 14, 2012
AUBURN----Frankie Sullivan scored 19 points, all after the half, Chris Denson added 16 points and Kenny Gabriel 11 points, a career-high tying 13 rebounds and four blocks to lead Auburn to a thrilling 69-68 double overtime victory over Ole Miss in Auburn Arena on Saturday.
Sullivan, who was averaging only 5.7 points in his last six games, also had four assists and four steals while coming off the bench.
It was the Tigers' first double overtime win since 1991 when Auburn won at Georgia 59-58.
"There were a lot of different things working against us," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "We weren't making shots. We were turning the ball over. I am on their tail at every time out and every trip up and down the floor. My guys could have easily folded up the tent with all that adversity around them.
"That is part of the growing up process. With all that adversity, you still have to find a way to tough it out and still win by doing it together, and that is what we did."
Auburn (11-6, 1-2) looked to be in control as it led by as many as 12 points at 46-34 with 7:39 left in regulation, but that is when Ole Miss (11-6, 1-2) caught fire. The Rebels scored 34 points in the remaining 17:21.
The Tigers still led 55-46 with 2:07 left in regulation but closed on a 11-2 run to tie it at 57-57 on a Nick Williams 3-pointer. It was the first time Auburn didn't lead since it was 8-8 with 10:30 left in the first half.
There were six lead changes and three ties in the first overtime that ended tied at 65 after Terrance Henry's layup with 1:05 to play. In the second overtime, Rob Chubb, who picked up two fouls in the first 49 seconds of the game and only played four first half minutes, fouled out 22 seconds into the final overtime.
The Tigers then took control of the game as Frankie Sullivan's two foul shots gave Auburn the lead for good at 67-65 with 4:11 on the clock, but plenty of drama remained. Denson scored Auburn's last points on a pair of free throws with 2:54 remaining and a 69-66 Tiger lead.
Reginald Buckner, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Ole Miss, had an alley-oop dunk from Jarvis Summers with 34 seconds remaining to make it 69-68. After an Auburn turnover, Summers' shot was blocked by Gabriel with six seconds to go, and Terrence Henry missed a contested tip-in before Sullivan grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.1 second left.
"It is good to see, isn't it?" said Barbee of Sullivan ending his mini-slump. "This is what we have been looking for. Hopefully, he is getting closer because we have a lot of guys who have been struggling. There is no one on this team who has been working harder to get out of that than Frankie."
The game started out slow as Auburn missed 10 straight field goals after Gabriel's 3-pointer 30 seconds into the game, and the Tigers went nearly six minutes without a point but were able to tie it 6-6 on a Denson trey. Auburn had a 12-4 run to take a 23-14 lead, but Ole Miss finished the half on a 6-2 run in the final 1:44 as the Tigers led 25-20.
After the Rebels closed to within 27-25, the Tigers pushed their lead out to 35-25 and then 39-27 eight minutes into the second half. The lead never got closer than seven until 2:06 left in regulation.
"I have been working out with the coaches and watching film to see what I had been doing wrong during my little slump," said Sullivan. "I think that I was having a lot of problems in my life, and it was evident on the court. I went back to the Bible and started going back to church. I also started doing things right again off the court, and I think that it showed on the court. I have been working hard, and my teammates have been helping me out a lot."
Auburn outshot Ole Miss 37.9 percent to 36.1 percent, and the Tigers were 7-of-18 (.389) from 3-point range to the Rebels' 7-of-28 (.250). Summers, who finished with a game-high 22 points, went 4-of-8 from 3-point range for Ole Miss. Auburn was 18-of-28 (.643) from the foul line while Ole Miss was 9-of-15 (.600). The Rebels outrebounded the Tigers 49-39 and had 20 turnovers to Auburn's 18.
Chubb and Ward each had eight points for the Tigers. Williams had 13 points off the bench for Ole Miss and Murphy Holloway added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Auburn returns to action at LSU on Tuesday at 6 pm Central on ESPNU.