Nov. 30, 2012
AUBURN -Frankie Sullivan had career highs of 28 points and five assists while Rob Chubb added a season-high 17 points and 13 rebounds, but Auburn fell 80-76 to DePaul in the SEC-Big East Challenge on Friday in Auburn Arena.
"I think as frustrated as we all are as a group, players, coaches, as a team, as a family, we're getting closer," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. "We've just got to put it all together on the floor. There's a lot of positive out of this game, we just didn't come out with a win."
Auburn (2-5) battled back from a six point second half deficit, and Noel Johnson's second 3-pointer tied the game at 72 with 3:30 left. Sullivan's layup with a minute left closed the Tigers to within 78-76.
Auburn made a defensive stop on the next possession, setting the stage for a shot at a game winner. The Tigers couldn't get a good look and Noel Johnson lost the ball at the top of the key while the Blue Demons' Cleveland Melvin was fouled and converted two free throws for an 80-76 lead with 13.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Sullivan had 20 points in the first half alone for his fifth game of 20 or more points in eight games this season. Melvin led DePaul (4-3) with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds while Brandon Young added 19 points.
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum added nine points, five rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
Sullivan's third 3-pointer in as many tries gave Auburn a 22-18 lead with 12:37 remaining. He had previously left the game with a sprained left wrist following a hard foul, but returned with it taped and promptly connected on a pair of treys.
A back-and-forth game continued with five ties and six lead changes in the first half, but the Tigers held a 46-42 lead at the break. Auburn's 46 points in the first half were a season high. There were a total of seven ties and nine lead changes on the night and the largest lead by either team was seven points by Auburn over a minute to go in the half.
DePaul opened the second half with a 7-0 run and Auburn didn't connect on its first field goal after the intermission until more than three minutes into the half when Allen Payne scored a fast break layup. Sullivan followed with another transition basket, and the Tigers were back on top 50-49 with 16:11 to go.
The Blue Demons answered with a 9-0 run to take their largest lead at 58-52 with 13:26 on the clock. A three-point play by Donnavan Kirk widened DePaul's advantage to 67-62 with nine minutes to go, but a pair of Noel Johnson treys tied it at 72 with 3:35 to go.
Auburn now has a 10-day break for finals and will play next on December 11 against Grambling State in Auburn Arena.