Auburn hits free throws late to top Georgia 74-67

AUBURN, ALA. — Auburn’s Chris Denson and KT Harrell got an abundance of scoring help for a change.Denson scored 18 points to lead five players in double digits and the Tigers made six straight free throws over the final 34 seconds in a 74-67 victory over Georgia on Saturday.

The Tigers (10-9, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) went 11 of 13 from the foul line over the final five minutes to secure their second SEC win in three days after dropping 16 in a row. They beat rival Alabama on Thursday night.

It’s the first time Auburn had five players reach double figures in an SEC game since Feb. 20, 2010, against Arkansas.

“I’ve been asking for it,” Tigers coach Tony Barbee said of that offensive balance. “I guess what you ask for, sometimes it will come true.

“We did not have the energy that we had the other night, and so we made it harder on ourselves obviously. But I still liked the way we responded in some adverse situations.”

Denson and Harrell, the SEC’s top scoring duo, took turns offensively after combining for 55 points against Alabama. Denson had 14 in the second half.

Harrell scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half and made three 3-pointers. Freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen, a Georgia native, finished with 12 points and four assists while Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Allen Payne scored 10 apiece.

Dixon-Tatum also had eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

“Asauhn had a great game, not just a good game,” Barbee said. “He was a huge presence over there because he wasn’t overthinking anything. He just went out and played.”

Charles Mann scored 18 points and Nemanja Djurisic had 11 for the Bulldogs (10-10, 4-4), who have dropped three straight games.

Auburn made 27 of 34 free throws, including 18 of 22 in the second half.

“The difference ended up being the free throw line,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We sent them there way too much and they shot their free throws well. We didn’t shoot ours as well and we didn’t get there as much.”

Georgia’s No. 2 scorer, Kenny Gaines, returned after missing the last two games with a bruised left thigh. He scored nine points on 2-of-10 shooting but picked up his fourth foul with 8:38 left.

“We tried to come out and fight,” Gaines said. “We did a better job in the second half but we should have done it in the first half.”

Mann scored on two quick drives to bring Georgia back to within three twice over the final 1:08.

The Bulldogs had to keep sending Auburn to the line, though.

“It was very frustrating,” Gaines said. “We felt like we were playing pretty good defense and we see at the end of the shot clock they called a foul.”

Payne, Shamsid-Deen and Dixon-Tatum all hit a pair of free throws down the stretch. The Tigers hadn’t won back-to-back league games since opening 2-0 last season.

The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half but pulled to within 59-57 with 5:40 left.

J.J. Frazier came up with two big plays to cap a 15-4 run. He stole the ball from a driving Shamsid-Deen, drove and dished to Djurisic, who hit a layup and subsequent free throw.

Then Frazier buried a 3-pointer from the right corner.Auburn scored seven of the next eight points.

The 5-foot-10 Shamsid-Deen, who is from Decatur, Ga., said Friday that he wasn’t recruited by the Bulldogs because they deemed him too small.

He left the game for several minutes in the first half with a twisted right ankle but still played a big role.

“I take everything as a challenge,” Shamsid-Deen said. “I know people always say my size is an issue. But since it was Georgia, hometown team, and they didn’t look at me, of course I used that as motivation. And thank God we came out with the win today.”

 

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