Dec. 21, 2013
Freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen says Tigers took a major step forward with win over Clemson (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – For Auburn’s basketball team, there is new energy, new belief that something special can come of Tony Barbee’s fourth season as head coach. On Wednesday night, the Tigers celebrated a 66-64 victory over Clemson. And Sunday they will try to add more energy and more excitement when Boston College comes to town.
Tipoff time at Auburn Arena is set for 1 p.m.
Clemson rolled into town with an 8-2 record and the nation’s stingiest defense, but Auburn made enough plays down the stretch to break a two-game losing streak and improve to 5-3.
“I think they feel we took steps,” Barbee said. “We have to still keep taking steps, because we are not all the way where we need to be. But I think there was a lesson learned last night. No matter the situation in any game, whether you are up 10 or you are down 10, there is always enough time.”
Freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen says the victory was badly needed after back-to-back blowout losses to Illinois and Iowa State.
“We were on a two-game skid, so to get a win against an ACC team that was 8-2 was very big,” Shamsid-Deen said. “I know it’s early in the season, but that seemed like it was a must-win for us.”
After leading Clemson by as many as 11 in the first half, the Tigers trailed by as many as 9 in the second half before rallying down the stretch to earn their tastiest victory over the season.
“If we lose a game it is only because we ran out of time, not because we stopped fighting,” Barbee said. “I think that was a lesson that we have been harping on for a long time, and we harped on it even more all last week before the game. I am glad to see it paid off for the guys.”
Shamsid-Deen says there is a different feeling in the Auburn locker room in the wake of the victory.
“There’s a lot of energy,” Shamsid-Deen said. “Guys want to come out and get this win.”
Guards Chris Denson and KT Harrell, Auburn’s offensive leaders throughout the season, led the way against Clemson. Denson scored 19 points and Harrell 14.
For the season, Denson leads the Southeastern Conference with 19.8 points per game. Harrell isn’t far behind at 17.9.
The Tigers will break for Christmas after Sunday’s game, returning for a Dec. 30 game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Auburn Arena.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: