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Auburn makes it two quick SEC wins after topping Georgia

Auburn Tigers
(10-9, 2-6 SEC)
February 1, 2014

(10-10, 4-4 SEC)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Georgia didn't recruit Chris Denson and thought Tahj Shamsid-Deen was too small. 

The Georgia natives made the Bulldogs pay for the slight Saturday in helping Auburn to a 74-67 win, the second straight SEC win in less than 48 hours in Auburn Arena.   

Denson and Shamsid-Deen were in a lineup in which all five starters hit for double figures and reserves made big plays when called upon. It was the first time five Auburn players hit double figures in the same game since a win over Grambling in 2012 and the first time in an SEC game against Arkansas in 2010. 

Auburn, which had some tough SEC losses early, has now beaten Alabama by 19 and Georgia by seven in short order. The Tigers improved to 10-9 overall and 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia fell to 10-10 and 4-4 in the league.

"It was a pleasure to beat Alabama, but it's always good to beat Georgia, the hometown team, especially when they overlooked you," Denson said. "It was just a great feeling beating them." 

Denson leads Auburn in scoring for the season and was the leader Saturday when he scored 18. Shamsid-Deen, listed at a hopeful 5-foot-10, continued his steady play despite leaving for the locker room for a time in the first half after hurting his ankle. 

"People always say my size is an issue," Shamsid-Deen said, "and since it was Georgia, hometown team, and they didn't look at me, of course I used that as motivation." 

Shamsid-Deen finished with 12 points and four assists. 

"Is he even a freshman?" Auburn coach Tony Barbee asked rhetorically. "He doesn't play like it. He is wise beyond his years." 

Auburn won Saturday by sharing everything, though this time without Denson and KT Harrell dominating the stat sheet. Denson's 18 led the way. Harrell scored 16. That was more modest totals than in the win against Alabama, when they combined for 55 points. 

One trend continued, however:  Auburn's starters scored 66 of the 74 points. Auburn's reserves attempted only four shots from the field. That followed the path that saw Auburn getting 90 percent of its scoring from its starters in SEC play, anyway. 

Center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, who celebrated his 23rd birthday Saturday, played tall with 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

"Asauhn Dixon-Tatum had a great game, not just a good game," Barbee said. 

Auburn jumped to a quick lead and seemed to be comfortably ahead around the 8-to-12-point range most of the way. But unlike Alabama, which lost to Auburn by 19 Thursday, Georgia came back, cutting the lead to two with 5:43 remaining. It was 3-point game with 28 seconds left. 

The Tigers had trouble finishing with wins in early SEC games. They did it Saturday despite Georgia's late run. 

"I think a couple of games ago, we would have just let that lead just fall, but we have a different mindset about finishing games now," Denson said. 

Auburn won't have the home crowd behind it next week. The Tigers play at South Carolina on Wednesday and at LSU next Saturday.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:




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