Auburn knew they had to play great defense last night to have a chance to beat a hot Arkansas team at home – and that’s what they did. However, in the end it came down to scoring a basket as the Tigers lost at the buzzer 56-53. It was the second heart breaker on the road the Tigers have had to endure in the last eight days.
It was a wild game from the start as Barbee’s Tigers came out with a ferocious defense that held the Razorbacks to zero points for the first six minutes of the game. It was a defensive struggle on both sides with the Tigers leading at halftime 22-19.
Until now the Tigers’ have been 10-0 when leading at the half. But the Tigers were without the services of guard Varez Ward who went out in the first half with an injury to the thigh and shooting guard Josh Langford missed all of the second half after his head took a hard hit on the floor while fighting for a ball.
The Tigers still fought back hard in the second half in front of a large and rowdy Razorback crowd. Auburn out shot Arkansas from the field 40 percent to 35 percent and out rebounded the Razorbacks 42-29, scrapping and fighting all the way to the buzzer.
It was a great defensive effort – exactly the kind that Barbee has been demanding from this group. Yet at the end, what was needed was for someone to be able to make a shot. And the Tigers had three chances on two different possessions to make 3-pointers that could have won the game or at least sent it into overtime. Frankie Sullivan and Chris Denson both missed open chances and Kenny Gabriel’s attempt slid off the rim at the buzzer.
Coach Barbee said afterwards that he was really proud of the way his Tigers fought. “Any time you lose like that, it is a heart breaker …Any time you go on the road in this conference and you can play that hard and fight that tough and give yourself an opportunity to win, that’s all you can ask for. We had our chances. Unfortunately, they made a couple more plays than we did at the end.”
This was a tough loss but now the Tigers have to put it behind them and get ready to play Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday night. The game is scheduled for a 5 pm CST tip off and will be broadcast by ESPN2.