Nov. 19, 2008
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AUBURN, Ala. - James Florence scored a game-high 25 points as Mercer (3-0) outrebounded its way to a 78-74 upset of Auburn (1-1) in the Chicago Invitational first round in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum Wednesday.
The Tigers were outrebounded 46-21 by the Bears and only made 6-of-14 foul shots in the second half, including a poor 2-of-8 in the final 7:20 after Auburn took a 67-65 lead. Atlantic Sun Conference member Mercer improved to 2-0 against the SEC Western Division as it won at Alabama 72-69 Sunday.
"I give Mercer credit. They just annihilated us on the glass," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. "That is their second game, and we watched their game vs. Alabama very closely. That was the emphasis coming into this game. They destroyed us on the glass, offense and defensive glass.
"We put them on the foul line way too much. One of our goals is not to foul so much, but 34 times is way too much. They shot and converted. We missed 6-of-14 in the first half on the foul line. That is frustrating when we get to the foul line we can't convert. Mercer"s James Florence is a terrific player. He controlled their side of the court. Daniel Emerson was a force inside."
Emerson, a Western Kentucky transfer, had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Tay Waller led Auburn with 22 points on 6-of-13 three-point shooting but missed several minutes down the stretch with cramps. Korvotney Barber had 17 points and three blocks while DeWayne Reed added 11 points, five assists and zero turnovers and Quantez Robertson 10 points, five assists and a game-high six rebounds.
Waller scored the first basket of the game and then Florence made a foul shot and Emerson a jumper to give Mercer a lead that they didn't relinquish until Robertson made a pair of free throws for a 30-28 lead with 4:39 left in the half. The Bears led by as much as 13-4 five minutes in and had its largest lead of the game at 22-12 before the Tigers used an 8-1 run to get back into the game.
Leading 44-40 at the half, Mercer pushed its lead to 47-40 on a conventional 3-point play by Calvin Henry. Auburn then scored eight straight points for a 48-47 lead with 18:16 left and the margin never went above more than three points either way until a Florence three-pointer to give Mercer a 72-68 lead with 4:11 left.
The Tigers trailed 73-68 with 2:29 remaining but were down only 76-74 with nine seconds left and had the ball. Robertson drove the length of the court and missed a contested shot in the lane that went out of bounds under the glass with five seconds left. The official under the glass pointed Auburn"s direction and then the official by midcourt overruled him by calling a charge on Robertson.
"We had Quantez Robertson with the ball so that he could take it to the rim," Lebo said. "We missed a layup or two right there at the end. We missed a ton of free throws coming down the stretch that really hurt us." After an Auburn foul, Calvin Henry sank two foul shots to seal the game. The Tigers only committed seven turnovers while forcing 19 Bears turnovers. Auburn returns to action Saturday as it plays host to George Washington at 1 pm Central.