Auburn basketball defeated by Ole Miss in SEC opener
Not much went right for either team when Ole Miss and Auburn opened Southeastern Conference play in Mississippi Jan. 9. Turnovers, unnecessary fouls and missed free throws plagued both teams the entire contest.
The back-and-forth game reached a dramatic ending when Auburn guard KT Harrell held the ball for the final possession, down by three points. After being in foul trouble the entire game, the junior had the opportunity to tie the game after locking up his defender with a crossover. Despite having a clear view of the basket close to three feet behind the arc, Harrell would miss the shot and Auburn would lose 62-65.
The Tigers dropped to 8-4 for the season.
Auburn probably shouldn't have been in the game that late after turning the ball over 18 times and missing five of the team's 15 free throws. However, with the Rebels' leading scorer Marshall Henderson out for the second of his three-game suspension, the Tigers were able to compete until the end.
Auburn guard Chris Denson's game-high 28 points and Harrell's 11 helped the Tigers negate the all-around scoring effort of the Rebels. Ole Miss guards Jarvis Summers and Derrick Millinghaus combined for 30 points.
Denson was a scoring machine. He was able to slash through the defense and draw fouls. However, his free-throw woes continued; he missed five in 10 attempts, lowering his season average to 65 percent.
Despite Denson's dominant performance, head coach Tony Barbee felt the team could be more efficient.
“I’m proud of the guys because they fought their tails off tonight and we gave ourselves a chance," he said via Opelika Auburn News. “We’ve just got to be more efficient on the offensive end of the floor. We had 18 turnovers and too many of them are unforced.”
The one-two punch of Denson and Harrell combined for 39 of Auburn's 62 points. The two were the SEC's leading pair of scorers entering the game.
Auburn created many stops in the team's zone defense and led to easy baskets in transition. The Tigers also dominated on the boards, hauling in 40 rebounds to the Rebels' 30.
It was a bitter loss, but the team looked promising entering its first week of conference play. Auburn's next opponent will be Missouri Jan. 11 at Auburn Arena.