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Auburn's starting lineup shows signs of coming up big

Feb. 3, 2014

Auburn's Chris Denson signals his 3-pointer against Georgia (Zach Bland photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- It was a good 48 hours for Tony Barbee. His Auburn basketball team finished last week beating Alabama by 19 and filled up the box score in a 7-point win over Georgia. 

The filling-up-the-box score part was just what the Auburn coach had been looking for during the first third of the SEC season, and found it when the Tigers turned that corner for the middle third of the conference schedule.

Auburn had all five starters score in double figures for the first time in an SEC game since 2010 and got some much needed help from its inside game against Georgia. The Tigers, 10-9 overall and 2-6 in the SEC, will now try to do some of the same in games at South Carolina on Wednesday and at LSU on Saturday.  

Guards Chris Denson and KT Harrell led the Tigers against Georgia with a total of 34 points. And the Tigers got help from a combined 32 points and 17 rebounds from Allen Payne, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Tahj Shamsid-Deen.

"Our bigs are playing better and that's the key to this team," Barbee said. 

"We just have to get more production out of our front line. When you look at our 0-6 start, we weren't getting very much production. You look at the last two games, we have gotten more production out of them, blocking shots and rebounding. We don't have bigs that we are going to be forcing the ball to every time down the floor but we even have gotten some more offense out of them as well. We play well when our bigs play well." 

Barbee said he was especially impressed with the play of Dixon-Tatum, his center, who had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. 

"Asauhn Dixon-Tatum had a great game, not just a good game. He was a huge presence out there because he wasn't over thinking anything. He just went out and played," Barbee said. 

Payne had 10 points and seven rebounds. 

"That's what seniors are supposed to do," Barbee said. "I have been talking about guys having moments, and big moments and big spots in games aren't just reserved for your catalyst, KT Harrell and Chris Denson. Everybody is capable of having big moments, and Allen Payne had big moments." 

Denson welcomes the help from the entire lineup, whether it's the biggest players, such as Dixon-Tatum and reserve Matthew Atewe; to Shamsid-Deen, the smallish point guard. 

"Their performances were big," Denson said. "Honestly, we wouldn't have won these last two games without Matthew Atewe and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum's play Matthew had a clutch block with a minute left. Coach always says, `Two players can't be the team.' We need everybody like Tahj Shamsid-Deen to do his role. We need Allen Payne and Asauhn. They are all really coming in and doing their job. And that is what we need to keep going against South Carolina and the next few SEC games."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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