Feb. 26, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Technical fouls. Regular fouls. Sixty free throws. A late start and a lengthy game took Auburn past the 10 o'clock hour Wednesday.
Auburn's 83-67 victory over South Carolina in Auburn Arena was worth the wait for the Tigers, and especially pleasing for coach Tony Barbee in the bounce-back performance. Auburn was called for two technical fouls and the officials threw out a fan, but Barbee said the Tigers withstood the tedious stop-and-go foul-filled game. The officials called eight quick fouls on Auburn to start the second half.
"As a player, you can't let that affect you," Barbee said. "I thought we did a good job of not letting the physical nature of the game or foul trouble affect us."
Overall, Barbee said, "You can't get caught up in things you can't control. I thought we did a good job of handling our composure."
South Carolina coach Frank Martin was blunt: "We aren't talented enough to outscore people," he said.
Auburn improved to 13-13 overall and 5-10 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are at Alabama on Saturday. South Carolina fell to 10-18 overall and 3-12 in the league after losing to the Tigers twice this season.
Chris Denson led Auburn with 22 points as the Tigers found the balanced scoring Barbee has wanted. Allen Payne added 15, Tahj Shamsid-Deen had 14 and KT Harrell had 11. Brenton Williams led South Carolina with 26 points that included five 3-pointers.
Auburn scored 25 from the free throw line. South Carolina scored 19 from there.
Barbee said he didn't know why the fan was thrown out.
"I wasn't there. I don't know what he said."
Denson smiled. "That's my boy," he said.
Payne chuckled at the rare sight, saying the last time he saw such a thing was "at an AAU game when they threw a crazy parent out."
Auburn was solid on the court, hitting a nifty 52 percent from the floor.
The Tigers got plenty of early help from their bench and with three quick 3-pointers from Shamsid-Deen to start the second half. Dion Wade came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers, too. The 3-pointers brought the cheers, but a good portion of the game was spent the free throw line thanks to 53 fouls.
Auburn led 39-27 at the half and made the advantage stick, unlike the last time out when Vanderbilt overcame a 16-point deficit to win by eight.
"We had energy tonight," Denson said.
And the Tigers have Alabama in Tuscaloosa 2 p.m. Saturday.
"We need to bring the type of energy that can allow us to win and be successful," Denson said. "If we don't bring the energy we are going to lose. Bringing the energy is our main focus."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine