Auburn's K.C. Ross-Miller makes his move agianst Texas Southern
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- K.C. Ross-Miller said it was time to go, to step up his game, to provide a little extra in trying to lead Auburn back.
Ross-Miller did, helping run the Tigers' offense in a second-half comeback that finally overtook Texas Southern in the final seconds in a 61-60 win in Auburn Arena on Tuesday night. It was his two free throws with 14 seconds left that stood up as the game-winner, and it was a late steal by Cinmeon Bowers that kept Texas Southern at bay.
Texas Southern led 34 minutes, 36 seconds. Auburn just 3:01.
Auburn did in the final seconds what it did to beat Xavier in double-overtime Saturday night. Then, Malcolm Canada made two late free throws to win it with 14 seconds left. Tuesday, it was Ross-Miller.
"I'm pretty confident in myself. I knew we needed to hit it," he said.
Auburn successfully followed up its win against Xavier to improve 6-5, winning for the third time after trailing by at least 11 points in the second half. Texas Southern, playing on the road for the 10th time, and coming off a win at Michigan State last Saturday, fell to 2-9.
SEC player of the week KT Harrell led Auburn with 14 points. Bowers recorded his seventh double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Antoine Mason added 13 and Ross-Miller scored 11.
Pearl said Bowers was typical of Auburn's up-and-down night, from another double-double, to a steal at the end, to being "terribly inconsistent."
Auburn started slowly. The Tigers managed a 10-8 lead with 13:51 left in the first half, but trailed 17-10 four minutes later. It took Auburn 15 minutes to score 20. The Tigers trailed 28-27 at halftime.
The game started slipping away in the early stages of the second half. Texas Southern led by 11 with 14:42 to play. That's when Auburn got back in it.
"I knew we had to make a run. We had to play with more energy," Ross-Miller said of the comeback.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl called Ross-Miller a winner.
"He's a pretty competent player. It just kind of encouraging to see in certain situations shine," Pearl said.
Pearl added he wished Ross-Miller, and everybody else, wouldn't wait until the situation demands attention before things get going. Pearl said the Tigers
are too inconsistent, and said he was disappointed the Tigers started so poorly after taking a big win over Xavier last time out.
"We suffered from the tendency of a letdown game," Pearl said. "I didn't think we'd experience it because, given we were at 5-5 and we're still battling to stay above .500 and to be post-season eligible. I thought we would have it tonight. But we didn't have it tonight."
Auburn returns to action against Middle Tennessee State at 8 p.m. Monday in Auburn Arena.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine