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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2007
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Turnovers kill Tigers

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

AUBURN — In life, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

And then there’s the way Auburn lost to Ole Miss at home Saturday.

The Tigers, coming off their first road win of the season, had more turnovers than baskets, and the Rebels warmed up outside the 3-point arc, making 54 percent.

As a result, Auburn lost 82-59.

“Ole Miss is good,” Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. “They just whooped us from start to finish this whole game.”

Auburn (14-10, 4-5 SEC) finished with 25 turnovers, and Ole Miss turned them into 31 of its points. That was easily the difference in the game.

“Auburn’s been playing really well, it’s just one of those days,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We knew coming in, the people they beat in this building, we knew we were going to have to play aggressive.”

Dwayne Curtis, an Auburn transfer, led Ole Miss with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Clarence Sanders had 21 points, all on 3-pointers. Bam Doyne scored 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and Todd Abernethy scored 14 points and had nine assists.

Auburn’s loss, combined with Alabama’s 64-61 win over South Carolina, dropped the Tigers out of first place in the SEC Western Division. They’re now tied with the Rebels (15-8, 4-5) for second, a half-game back of the Crimson Tide.

The first half couldn’t have been much worse for Auburn. Fourteen turnovers turned into 22 Ole Miss points, and the Rebels sank 8 of 13 from 3-point range, taking a 12-point halftime lead.

This despite Auburn outrebounding Ole Miss by seven in the opening 20 minutes.

The second half was nearly as bad, as any time Auburn tried to close back to a manageable deficit, the Tigers bounced the ball off their foot or behind or just gave the ball to Ole Miss.

Though Auburn worked the game back to within four points early in the second half, that’s as close as it got.

Turnovers made it so.

“We were kind of locking down on defense,” Auburn guard Frank Tolbert said. “Executing our plays. Then we went to another blackout period.”

Including a 91-66 loss to Florida on Jan. 27, Auburn has lost back-to-back home games by at least 20 points for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

On Saturday, against Ole Miss, it wasn’t just turnovers.

The Rebels made 12 treys on the day, made up a seven-rebound halftime deficit, and saw their bench outscore Auburn’s 23-12.

“They shot the ball pretty good,” Auburn guard Quantez Robertson said. “Got wide open shots. We weren’t getting out on the shooters. We weren’t getting hands up. There were a lot of things we weren’t doing on defense.”

Still, early in the second half, Auburn was back in the game after going on a 7-0 run.

But Sanders, as he was all game, came up big for Ole Miss, making a 3-pointer for a 46-39 lead.

Two possessions later, after two Auburn misses, Curtis made a reverse layup for a 48-39 lead. Robertson drilled a 3-pointer, giving Auburn brief hope.

Curtis made a layup on the ensuing possession. Robertson then turned over the ball back to Ole Miss, and Curtis converted another layup.

Quan Prowell brought the score back to single digits with a bucket in the lane, but Curtis made yet another layup, and the Tigers were done.

“Give credit to Ole Miss,” Lebo said. “I thought they were very sharp, especially offensively, about the whole game. We let them get in a groove offensively.”

Josh Dollard led Auburn with 13 points. Robertson added 12, and Prowell and Barrett each had 10.

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