Tigers Rally From 21 Down, Fall to Presbyterian, 62-59

Kenny Gabriel

Kenny Gabriel

Dec. 18, 2010

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Auburn -- After trailing by as much as 21 points, Auburn missed a layup to tie it in the final seconds in a 62-59 loss to Presbyterian in Auburn Arena on Saturday. Rob Chubb led the Tigers with a career-high 15 points while Kenny Gabriel added 10 points and six rebounds.

Presbyterian's Khalid Mutakabbir, who scored a game-high 17 points on 3-of-4 three-pointers, made a free throw to put the Blue Hose up two points with seven seconds remaining. Auburn (3-7) inbounded the ball to Josh Wallace on the run just shy of midcourt, and Wallace dribbled through the Presbyterian defense before his layup attempt with three seconds left rolled off the basket.

Presbyterian (5-6) was on fire in the first half, jumping out to a 19-4 lead six minutes into the game and stretched it to as much as 21 points at 30-9 with 6:52 left in the half. In the opening period, the Blue Hose shot 67.1 percent from the field and 52.9 percent on 9-of-17 three-pointers to take a 38-23 lead at halftime.

"I told them I was proud of them for the way that they fought back in the second half, but the game was lost in the first half," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "All the energy we expended to get back in the game, we didn't have enough to get over the hump. But, if we would have played with that intensity and that effort in the first half, then the game could have gone a different way."

Auburn, which forced 20 turnovers on 15 steals, picked up its defense after intermission and kept inching closer into the game. The Tigers closed to within nine points four minutes into the half and then crept to within 50-43 with 9:25 remaining.

After a pair of Al"Lonzo Coleman free throws, the Tigers scored eight consecutive points to come within 52-51 with 2:52 to go. Coleman notched a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for Presbyterian.

"First off, we should have not been in that place to begin with because we were not playing tough enough as a whole, and we let ourselves slip," said Frankie Sullivan, who was playing in his first home game of the season after coming back from left knee surgery on July 27.

"If you let a team get up 20 points in the first half and waste all that energy trying to fight back, it will kill you every time. It was just effort in the second half. We really focused in."

Earnest Ross and Josh Wallace pitched in nine points apiece for Auburn while Frankie Sullivan had five points, three assists and two steals in 20 minutes.

Auburn, which shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half, finished shooting 41.1 percent for the game and only 3-of-16 (.188) from 3-point range. Presbyterian shot 60.5 percent from the field and 10-of-20 from behind the arc. The Blue Hose outrebounded the Tigers 32-19. Auburn had a season-low five turnovers.

Auburn closes out its pre-holiday schedule playing host to USC Upstate on Tuesday at 7 pm Central in Auburn Arena.