Dec. 25, 2011
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HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Kenny Gabriel scored a career-high 24 points, 19 in the second half, and Varez Ward added 18 but it wasn’t enough as UTEP defeated Auburn 83-76 in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic third place game on Sunday. Josh Langford added a career-high 16 for the Tigers.
UTEP shot a torrid 65 percent from the field in the second half, including 71.4 percent (5-of-7) from 3-point range.
John Bohannon had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead five Miners in double figures. Michael Perez added 18 points on 4-of-6 three-pointers while Jacques Streeter added 12 and Gabriel McCulley and Cedrick Lane had 10 each.
UTEP had an 8-2 run to push its lead out to 68-61 with 4:09 left on a John Bohannon conventional 3-point play. The Miners extended it to as much as 11 points at 82-71 with 21 seconds left before holding off the Tigers for the win.
“I am disappointed in my team. I have to do a better job with my guys,” said head coach Tony Barbee. “All we talked about and all we worked on, 80 percent of our practice has been defense and toughness and defense and toughness and discipline on that end of the floor. We are the most undisciplined defensive team I have ever coached, ever, and it bothers me. I have to do a better job.”
Auburn (8-3) bridged both halves with a 13-5 run to take its first lead since the midway point of first half at 44-42 on a Gabriel dunk with 15:18 remaining. Gabriel scored nine of the Tigers’ first 12 points of the second half. UTEP had an 8-0 run to regain the lead at 54-50 with 8:31 to play.
Auburn trailed 22-19 with 8:47, but UTEP scored seven straight points to take a 31-23 lead with five minutes left in the half. Langford’s 11 first half points and Ward’s 10 kept the Tigers in it. UTEP (6-6) led 37-31 at the half.
The game had nine lead changes and six ties while UTEP shot 53.1 percent from the field for the game, including a torrid 65 percent in the second half. The Miners shot 69 percent from 3-point range on 9-of-13 treys, including 5-of-7 in the second half.
Auburn shot 45.5 percent from the field and 7-of-21 from 3-point range. The Tigers went 19-of-24 from the foul line and the Miners 22-of-29. Auburn outrebounded UTEP 33-25.
In the two previous Diamond Head Classic games, Auburn won at Hawaii 65-62 in the first round before losing to Long Beach State 64-43 in the semifinals.
Auburn will return to action as it plays host to Georgia Southern on Friday at 6 pm Central in Auburn Arena. The game will be televised by CSS.