There was concern in Auburn Coach Tony Barbee‘s voice when he spoke Wednesday about playing Hawaii in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic. “Hawaii is a very good team,” Barbee said. “I think they have an advantage over everyone … It is going to be tough with them being at home with a very large crowd.”
It was the type of tough challenge though, that Barbee wants his team to go through in order to prepare for the upcoming SEC season. Auburn flew 12 hours to Honolulu Wednesday and had to play their first game Thursday at midnight. The Tigers passed that first test defeating the home team Warriors.
After Auburn led a close fight for the entire game, the Warriors took the lead 62-61 with eight seconds to go. Auburn point guard Varez Ward was mobbed by the Warrior defenders, he made a fast break pass to Center Robb Chubb who made a slam dunk basket with 3.9 seconds left. Chris Denson then stole the inbounds and made two free throws. The Tigers won a thriller 65-62.
“We were resilient tonight,” said Barbee. “Offensively, we weren’t always getting what we wanted. We didn’t hang our heads. We battled defensively. We battled on the backboard. That play we ran, we work on it over and over and over and over. When you get in these situations, there is no panic.”
The Tigers’ challenge continues tonight as they advance to the second round of the Classic to face Long Beach State, a 68-58 upset winner over No. 14 Xavier. The game will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 10 pm CST.
Lets go Tigers!