By Charles Goldberg
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Tony Barbee said his team exhibited some physical play, and that was good. But Auburn's coach wasn't pleased with his team's overall play, not in an 81-62 loss to Illinois on Sunday in Philips Arena.
Auburn trailed 41-17 at the half and trailed by 31 in the second half before a rally in the closing minutes. Barbee said not to read too much into that. The game had long turned by then.
"We let our anemic offense...how many possessions in a row did we go and not score?" Barbee asked. "When the game matters, and it's in the balance, and you've got to make those same plays, you've got to make them. You've got to make the plays when the game matters."
KT Harrell scored a career-high 23 points for Auburn. Tahj Shamsid-Deen scored 13. Rayvonte Rice led Illinois with 22.
Auburn shot only 26 percent from the field in the first, improving to 52 percent in the second. Harrell and Shamsid-Deen combined for 30 of Auburn's 45 second-half points.
Auburn didn't in falling to 4-3. Illinois improved to 9-1.
Barbee shook up his lineup, switching around his big men.
"We're not getting any production out of our 4s and 5s. Nothing," Barbee said.
Auburn hung around early in the game. "Wasn't a bad first half, it was a bad last 10 minutes to the first half. The first 10 minutes was going how I thought the game would go," Barbee said.
Auburn will be off for finals until playing Clemson on Dec. 19.