AP photo by Anthony Hall|
Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster, right, feels pressure from Auburn’s Kelvin Lewis, left, and Quan Prowell in the first half of Auburn’s 68-65 win in Auburn on Saturday.
Hot-shooting AU sinks Commodores
By Bradley Handwerger
AUBURN — Frank Tolbert picked up the loose ball and sprinted down the wide-open floor at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, finishing with an emphatic, rim-rattling dunk.
The basket didn’t count, and it didn’t need to in this one.
Auburn survived at home against Vanderbilt 68-65, holding on as the Commodores missed two game-tying 3-pointers with fewer than 13 seconds remaining.
Tolbert took control of the ball following the second 3-point try and proceeded to throw down the meaningless jam, which came after the buzzer.
“We wanted to get this one, because of our upset against Southern Miss,” Auburn forward Josh Dollard said. “We owed ourselves this win.”
The surprising thing about Tolbert’s dunk was that he didn’t stop to shoot an insignificant 3-pointer.
Auburn (11-5, 1-0 SEC) and Vanderbilt (10-5, 0-1) combined for 54 attempts from behind the arc. The Tigers made a season-high 14 of 28, with Dollard making 4 of 5 and Rasheem Barrett making a career-high 6 of 9. Dollard had only three 3-pointers all season.
When told Barrett had been struggling heading into Saturday’s game, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings shot back, “He didn’t today, did he?”
He added, “Dollard’s been hot, too: 3 for 19 going into the game. ... Bad scouting report.”
Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo welcomed the sight of 22 points from Barrett.
“He has got to make shots for us,” Lebo said. “If he can be consistent out there, he can really help our team.”
Auburn made it interesting after leading by seven at halftime, and as many as 12 in the second half.
But with 3:41, the Tigers found themselves down by two with Korvotney Barber at the free throw line with two shots. He had missed his three previous attempts, and had made only 44.8 percent from there for the season.
His first shot went up, spun around the rim, off the glass and through the hoop. He then banked in his second foul shot to tie the game at 61.
“When I made it, I heard the crowd say do it again, bank it,” said Barber, who finished with 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks. “So I tried it, and banked it.”
Seconds later, following a Byars turnover, Barber gave Auburn a lead it didn’t relinquish by sinking a reverse layup for a 63-61 lead.
On the ensuing Vanderbilt possession, Ross Neltner missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity, the Commodores’ Shan Foster got the rebound, and Dan Cage, who led the visitors with 19 points, missed the trey.
Auburn’s Frank Tolbert missed a jumper, but Barber picked up the loose ball.
Twelve seconds later, Dollard hit a 3-pointer for a 66-61 advantage.
Vanderbilt’s Alan Metcalfe cut the lead to three points on a jump-hook, then Quantez Robertson turned over the ball back to the Commodores. Jermaine Beal made two free throws making the score 66-65.
With 16.1 second left, Quan Prowell’s 8-foot jumper pushed Auburn ahead 68-65.
Vanderbilt’s Cage and Beal both missed their game-tying shots, and Tolbert gave the crowd the electrifying postgame throwdown.
“It was big,” Lebo said. “Big for our confidence to win. Big for our confidence to win against a good team. Big for our confidence get an SEC win.”
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