AP photo by Todd Bennett|
Georgia’s Takais Brown, right, blocks a shot attempt by Auburn’s Quantez Robertson in the Bulldogs’ 86-79 win in Athens, Ga., on Saturday.
falls by 7
Tigers can’t overcome whistles, poor shooting
By Bradley Handwerger
ATHENS, Ga. — Josh Dollard didn’t even put up a fight.
No, as the Georgia crowd at Stegeman Coliseum heckled him, he just walked to the bench, hands behind his head, which he just shook back and forth.
Dollard, a sophomore forward for Auburn, wasn’t the first Tiger to foul out. He also wasn’t the last.
Five Auburn players, including four starters, finished the game on the bench with five fouls, and the Tigers fell to Georgia 86-79.
“There was a lot of fouls in this game, and that was the big difference,” Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. “We set a lot of records in this game every year.”
In a season that looked so promising through the midway point of conference play, Auburn (14-13, 4-8 SEC) has lost four straight.
Now, with four games remaining in the regular season, Auburn is searching for its fifth conference win. The Tigers won four league games in each of the past two seasons.
The game was nearly out of reach at halftime, with Georgia (16-9, 7-5) holding a 14-point advantage. Auburn shot 32 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, several of the misses coming within six feet of the basket.
While Auburn couldn’t hit a shot, Georgia couldn’t seem to miss, hitting seven first-half 3-pointers on its way to connecting on a blistering 51.9 percent of its shots.
“We played good in the first half; they were just making shots,” said Auburn guard Frank Tolbert, who finished the game with 17 points and three rebounds, as well as five of the Tigers’ 33 fouls.
“We played a couple of defenses on them — they just got open shots.”
And then the fouls came, and they came in bunches. And they were mostly on Auburn, which drew 23 second-half fouls.
“I’m happy we were on the positive side, because we had the lead, and they had to have more,” Georgia head coach Dennis Felton said.
With 7:08 to go, Georgia pushed its lead to 21 points when Dave Bliss tipped in an inbounds pass with one second left on the shot clock.
Auburn fought back, using the outside shot and a tough press defense to get back in the game.
Time was not on the Tigers’ side, though. Of course, neither was the foul situation.
Quan Prowell, who four points in 12 minutes, fouled out first with 9:27 to play. Dollard followed him at the 8:18 mark.
Still, Auburn worked the deficit to 72-63 with 3:19 to play on Rasheem Barrett’s 3-pointer.
Minutes later, after the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to double digits, Auburn freshman DeWayne Reed nailed a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 81-73 with 31 seconds to go.
After exchanging fouls, Auburn freshman Kelvin Lewis cut the lead to 83-77 with 16 seconds on the clock.
But Auburn had to foul, and Georgia made its shots, sinking 13 of 17 from the foul line in the final four minutes to keep the Tigers at bay.
The Tigers didn’t have an answer the entire game for Georgia’s inside guys as the Bulldogs finished with 28 points in the post.
Sundiata Gaines led the Bulldogs with 21 points and made 11 of 15 from the line.
Georgia’s Takias Brown finished with 14 points. Bliss added 10, and Rashaad Singleton had nine.
Besides Tolbert’s 17, Barrett gave Auburn 14 points and Lewis added 13.
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