Dec. 30, 2011
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Auburn erased a 14 point deficit behind a career-high tying 21 points from Rob Chubb and Chris Denson's season-high 19 to defeat Georgia Southern 78-75 in Auburn Arena on Friday. The Tigers outscored the Eagles 29-16 in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Auburn (9-3), which shot 59.3 percent in the second half, trailed 59-49 with 9:55 left. Denson scored five straight points, including a corner 3-pointer to put the Tigers ahead for good at 71-69 with 2:24 left. It was Auburn's first lead since 15-14 with 12:17 left in the opening period.
"The biggest thing was Coach Barbee said making plays," said Denson. "As you see, the play was for Chubb at first. Chub was on all night. Then, the defender went to Varez (Ward), and Varez went to the hole, and my man helped. Varez kicked it to me, and I knocked down the three."
Chubb's baby hook in the lane with 44 seconds left gave the Tigers a 74-71 lead and Frankie Sullivan split a pair of free throws for a four-point cushion with 12 seconds to go. The Eagles' Willie Powers, who finished with a game-high 23 points, scored on a layup six seconds later. Sullivan split another pair of foul shots, and Georgia Southern's Ben Drayton made two free throws to make it 76-75 Auburn with three seconds left after the Tigers elected to foul.
Denson sealed it with two more free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining for the final margin as Georgia Southern missed a layup at the buzzer.
"A win is a win," said Barbee. "You always have to be happy about a win. The only thing that I'm disappointed about is we're not getting how hard we have to play, how tough we have to defend and how tough we have to rebound.
"Give Georgia Southern a lot of credit for coming in here and playing their tails off. We did not deserve to win this game. They deserved to win it. They outplayed us. They played harder than us. They played tougher than us. We just happened to make some more plays when it counted than they did, but they deserved to win this game."
Georgia Southern (3-8, 2-0 SoCon) shot 64 percent from the field in the first half as it went on an 18-4 run to take its largest lead at 35-21 with 3:40 left. Auburn ended the half on a 9-4 run to keep it close as the Tigers were down 39-30 at intermission.
Auburn bridged together a 22-10 run over both halves to close to within 47-45 with 14:18 remaining, but Powers went on an 8-0 run all by himself in 60 seconds to put Georgia Southern back up 57-47.
Denson also dished out five assists for the Tigers while going 4-of-6 from the field and 10-of-12 from the foul line. Varez Ward added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists while Kenny Gabriel added 12 points and five boards.
Eric Ferguson added 20 points and six rebounds for Georgia Southern, who is coached by former Auburn assistant, Charlton Young.
The field goal percentages were nearly identical as Auburn shot 54.9 percent to Georgia Southern's 54.7 percent. The Tigers were 5-of-13 (.385) from 3-point range and 17-of-23 (.739) from the foul line while the Eagles were 4-of-13 (.308) behind the arc and 13-of-17 (.765) from the foul line. Auburn outrebounded Georgia Southern, 28-24.
Auburn, which is a perfect 8-0 at home, returns to action as it plays host to Bethune-Cookman on Monday at 7 pm Central in Auburn Arena.