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Crowd's in it, but Auburn can't hold off Ole Miss
Feb. 7, 2015

Auburn's Cinmeon Bowers floats through traffic against Ole Miss
(11-12, 3-7 SEC)
 Feb. 7, 2015
 Ole Miss
 Auburn Tigers
Ole Miss
Ole Miss
(16-7, 7-3 SEC)
By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- There was a hint of a comeback when Malcolm Canada went coast to coast for a basket that had the crowd cheering.
Alas, Auburn's rally came up short in Saturday night's 86-79 loss to Ole Miss, but it was close enough for Rebels coach Andy Kennedy to acknowledge the Tigers had captured the imagination of the sellout crowd of 9,121 in Auburn Arena.
"Obviously," Kennedy said, "Bruce has them energized at an all-time level."
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl sent his team out on a mission to hit as many 3-point shots as possible, and KT Harrell and Antoine Mason responded for the second straight game. The plan was spot on in the first half when the Tigers led by six, and the plan was still working with a 32-31 halftime lead.
But Auburn couldn't keep up the pace in the second half. The Tigers hit 10-of-30 3-point tries. Ole Miss countered by hitting a blistering 58 percent from the floor. 
Mason followed up his 23-point performance at LSU with 23 more Saturday. Harrell followed up his 28-point night in Baton Rouge with 16 more, mostly in the Tigers' hot first half. Cinmeon Bowers had his 13th double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
"When you talk about KT Harrell, Antoine Mason and Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn has as good a 1-2-3 as anybody in the league," Kennedy said. But Kennedy said the Tigers' depth issues caught up with them, and Pearl didn't disagree.
"I had four guys play 30-plus minutes, and that's a factor," Pearl said.
The Rebels won bench scoring 34-14. 
"I think that speaks to the challenges," Pearl said.
Ole Miss won its fifth straight game to improve to 16-7 overall and 7-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn fell to 11-12 overall and 3-7 in the league.
The Tigers didn't hide their intentions to go long. They had fired up 18 3-pointers to only 11 2-pointers at the half. Harrell benefitted the most to the plan, scoring all 12 of his first-half points on 3-point shots. Bowers and Tahj Shamsid-Deen also had 3-pointers early to help the Tigers to a 6-point first-half lead before Auburn settled for a 32-31 halftime advantage.
"I was really encouraged just being down by one in the first half," Kennedy said.
But Auburn couldn't follow up its first road win of the year, an 81-77 win at LSU. 
"It's very disappointing, frustrating," Mason said. "But like I told my teammates, we were right there."
The Tigers return to action against Arkansas at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Auburn Arena.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on TwitterFollow @AUGoldMine



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