AP photo by John Bazemore|
Jeff Lebo's Auburn Tigers fell to Georgia, while rival Alabama got dumped by Kentucky on the first day of the SEC tournament.
It's one and done for Lebo's Auburn Tigers at the Georgia Dome
By Bradley Handwerger
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2462
ATLANTA — Those postseason basketball plans Auburn suddenly had been preparing for? Yeah, they can hold off on them now.
Auburn played uninspired basketball for nearly the entirety of its SEC tournament opener against Georgia and paid dearly, falling 80-65 and probably falling out of a spot in the NIT.
When asked about the Tigers' NIT chances, Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo answered, "Slim. I don't think so, from my talking with people. I haven't gotten a lot of positive feedback."
After winning three of four after falling at Georgia on Feb. 17, Auburn reverted back to the turnover-ridden style it showed in the middle of the SEC season. "I didn't think we had anybody play particularly well in this game," Lebo said.
When the Tigers lost to Ole Miss on the last day of the season, the air of the inflated Auburn ego began leaking. It turned into a full bore blowout Thursday against Georgia.
"I don't know if there was any hangover," Lebo said. "I was worried about that early."
ot even a technical foul on Lebo early in the second half could get the Tigers back in the game.
When that Georgia possession finally ended, the Bulldogs led by 16, and seconds later, they pushed it to 51-33.
"I'm not supposed to comment on officiating, so I won't," Lebo said.
"I wasn't planning on getting (the technical foul)."
However, it was the first 20 minutes that all but doomed Auburn.
Auburn attacked Georgia's man-to-man defense early and often, jumping to a 10-3 lead. Then Georgia changed to a zone defense, and Auburn went silent.
"We weren't attacking the zone very well," said Josh Dollard, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. "Turnovers here and there in the zone. Good teams capitalize on the mistakes, and that's what they did tonight."
Georgia capitalized the most on the outside.
The Bulldogs' Levi Stukes was the main assailant, burning the Tigers from behind the arc for four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. He ended the night with 22 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range.
As a team, Georgia made 10 treys.
"The outside shooting opened up a lot for us," said Georgia forward Takais Brown, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
"It made my job a lot easier. I see a lot of double teams, so it's good to know that when I kick it out, I can make teams pay for doubling down because I know I've got guards who can knock it down."
For Auburn, freshman guard DeWayne Reed looked his age, picking up three fouls to keep him from playing the aggressive style he had used consistently during Auburn's late-season surge.
He finished with five points, two assists and three turnovers in 20 minutes.
Auburn cut the deficit to 35-31 with 1:38 left in the half, but for the rest of the period and the opening 41/2 minutes of the second half, the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 16-2 to break the game open.
"We tried to come in and play as intense and physical as we could," Auburn's Quantez Robertson said. "They shot the ball much better than we did tonight and came out with the victory."
Korvotney Barber, Robertson and Quan Prowell each scored 10 points for Auburn, and Frank Tolbert added 11.
For Georgia, Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey scored 11, and Terrance Woodbury added 13.
SEC tournament bracket
Thursday’s first round
Kentucky 79, Alabama 67
Arkansas 82, South Carolina 52
Georgia 80, Auburn 65
LSU 76, Tennessee 67, OT
Friday’s second round
Mississippi State vs. Kentucky, noon (WZDX-54)
Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas, 2:15 p.m. (WZDX-54)
Florida vs. Georgia, 6:30 p.m. (WAMY-TV)
Ole Miss vs. LSU, 8:45 p.m. (WZDX-54, WAMY-TV)
Semifinal, noon (WZDX-54)
Semifinal, 2:15 p.m. (WZDX-54)
Championship game, noon (WHNT-19)
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