Auburn Basketball Wins 65-62 Thriller at Hawaii in Diamond Head Classic First Round

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Frankie Sullivan puts up a shot in the second half. <em>Photo by Todd Van Emst</em>

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Frankie Sullivan puts up a shot in the second half. Photo by Todd Van Emst
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Dec. 23, 2011

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HONOLULU, Hawaii - A Rob Chubb dunk on a fast break pass from Varez Ward with 3.9 seconds left put Auburn back in front as the Tigers defeated Hawaii 65-62 in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic first round in the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday. The Warriors had taken their first lead of the game five seconds earlier.

Frankie Sullivan led Auburn (8-1) with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Chubb added 14 points, 10 in the second half, and Kenny Gabriel had 13 points and nine rebounds. It is the Tigers' best start since the 1999-2000 season when they began 16-1.

"We were resilient tonight," said Barbee. "Offensively, we weren't always getting what we wanted. We didn't hang our heads. We battled defensively. We battled on the backboard. That play we ran, we work on it over and over and over and over. When you get in these situations, there is no panic. It is silly how that play works."

Vander Joaquim gave Hawaii its first lead of the game at 62-61on a shot near the basket with 8.6 seconds left. After Auburn's last time out, Ward broke the press and found Chubb open on the elbow. Chubb then slammed home the game winning bucket with 3.9 seconds left. Chris Denson stole Hawaii's inbounds pass, was fouled and made two free throws to seal the win with two seconds left.

"They were all over Varez," said Chubb. "He gets it and takes it coast to coast and Hawaii all thought it was going in hands for the finish. They all collapsed on him, and he threw it to me. It left me wide open for a finish. Chris then closed it out with the two free throws."

Hawaii tied it for the first time at 43-43, but Auburn answered with an 8-1 run to take a 51-44 lead with 8:33 to go. Chubb scored six straight points for the Tigers and Gabriel made a pair of free throws and a 12-foot bank shot to give Auburn a 59-51 lead 2:32 remaining.

Auburn jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead and Sullivan nailed a corner 3-pointer and Denson had a driving layup to close out a 15-5 Auburn run for a 24-13 Tiger lead with 7:41 left in the first half. Hawaii responded with a 10-0 run of its own to close to within 24-23 with 5:07 left on a Zane Johnson 3-pointer. Auburn pulled back ahead with six straight points that included a Kenny Gabriel 3-pointer and a Frankie Sullivan twisting reverse layup as the Tigers held a 35-29 halftime lead.

"That was a real big game," said Sullivan. "Adversity hit us, and we did great with that. Hawaii is a great team. We knew they had great shooters. They played a great game. The crowd was behind them. We played a great game and came out with the win."

Johnson led Hawaii with 18 points on 4-of-10 three-point shooting while Joston Thomas had 12 points and Joaquim had 10 points and nine boards.

Auburn outshot Hawaii 48.1 percent to 43.1 percent from the field and the Tigers were 6-of-19 from 3-point range while the Warriors were 5-of-17. Hawaii was 13-of-23 from the foul line to only 7-of-11 for Auburn.

The Tigers advance to the Diamond Head Classic second round against Long Beach State, a 68-58 winner over No. 14 Xavier, at 10 pm Central on ESPN2. Kansas State vs. UTEP is the other semifinal.