Tigers Solid In Victory Over USC Upstate, 68-54
Dec. 21, 2010
Auburn - Earnest Ross scored 16 points to lead four Tigers in double figures as Auburn defeated USC Upstate 68-54 in Auburn Arena on Tuesday. Frankie Sullivan added 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals in 28 minutes in his third game back from injury.
Auburn (4-7) scored 11 straight points to break open a 39-38 lead midway through the second half to take control at 50-38 with 9:58 remaining. In the decisive run, Sullivan nailed a 3-pointer and Earnest Ross made two treys for the Tigers. USC Upstate (2-9, 1-1 Atlantic Sun) never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"It is huge for the psyche on the team," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "Those guys have been giving me everything that I have asked for in practice. They have worked hard. They are getting after it.
"I told them I hope Santa puts some more patience under my Christmas tree. I hope Santa puts a little toughness and grittiness and some meanness under their trees because we are lacking in those areas. We have to get some of that to compete against some of the teams coming up on our schedule."
The Tigers pushed their lead to as much as 16 on a break-a-way slam dunk by Allen Payne with 42 seconds to go. In the second half, Auburn shot 55.6 percent from the field, 4-of-8 from 3-point range and 15-of-20 (.750) from the free throw line while outscoring Upstate 39-28.
The game was close throughout the first half until Auburn scored five straight points, all by Josh Wallace with a 3-pointer and a layup, to take a 27-20 lead five minutes before the half. Wallace finished with a career-high 13 points and four assists. Upstate closed to within 29-26 at the half.
"It feels really good," said Sullivan. "you are not going into the break thinking Coach is going to run you to death when you get back because you didn't play hard enough because you were focused on going home. We actually put it together before we went home, and it is great to get a win."
Kenny Gabriel added 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks for the Tigers while Tony Dukes led the Spartans with 13 points and Torrey Craig and Chandler Hash had 11 points apiece.
Auburn shot 46.3 percent from the floor for the game, 38.9 percent (7-of-18) from 3-point range and 74.2 percent (23-of-31) from the foul line. The Tigers' defense held USC Upstate to 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 29.0 percent (9-of-31) from behind the arc.
Auburn has eight days in-between games as it returns to action against Georgia Southern on Dec. 29 at 7 pm Central in Auburn Arena.
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