Auburn 67, Arkansas 59

Wednesday, February 21st 2007, 10:26 pm
By: News On 6

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- The Auburn Tigers couldn't match bigger, stronger Arkansas physically, and they didn't try.

Instead, the Tigers relied on quickness and keeping a body between the Razorbacks' post players and potential rebounds in Wednesday night's 67-59 victory.

That strategy helped Auburn (15-13, 5-8 Southeastern Conference) dominate the boards 43-31, grab 18 offensive rebounds and end a four-game losing streak.

"We really weren't thinking about rebounding," said Korvotney Barber, who had 12 points and 14 boards for the Tigers. "We were thinking about boxing out and keeping the big men off the boards."

Josh Dollard and Frank Tolbert scored 18 points apiece for the Tigers, who made 8-of-10 free throws over the final 1:21 after the Razorbacks threatened a comeback. The win gave Auburn its most victories since going 22-16 in 2003 and damaged the Razorbacks' already fading NCAA tournament hopes.

Arkansas (16-11, 5-8), which trailed by 10 points early in the second half, cut it to 59-56 on Gary Ervin's free throw with 1:28 left. But Tolbert made five of his six attempts at the line down the stretch.

DeWayne Reed made two more after Patrick Beverley's 3-pointer with 31 seconds left cut it to 64-59.

But while Auburn made 23-of-31 attempts from the free throw line, Arkansas coach Stan Heath said the difference came closer to the basket.

"They just beat us pretty bad on the glass, second shot after second shot," Heath said. "They were quicker to the ball. It seemed like we had on some heavy shoes. I thought that was the difference in the game."

Tolbert and Dollard took over the scoring for Auburn in the second half, combining for 23 points. Dollard scored eight of the Tigers' first nine points after halftime.

He said Auburn tuned up for the game against Arkansas, with 7-footer Steven Hill and 6-foot-10 Darian Townes, with extra drills working on boxing out.

"It's been football. We had three straight days where we did war rebounds," Dollard said. "It's a very physical drill. It helped us tonight."

Tolbert had 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. In fact, Auburn's guards grabbed eight offensive boards in the first half.

"They're quick and they're real scrappy," Townes said. "They just wanted it a little bit more, and it showed."

Beverley led Arkansas with 16 points despite missing his first five 3-point attempts and shooting 6-for-16. Townes added 13 in just 21 minutes.

Two of the Razorbacks' top scorers struggled. Charles Thomas fouled out with 2:26 left after scoring nine points and Sonny Weems had four points, seven below his season average. Weems hurt his foot before the game after landing awkwardly in warmups.

Arkansas made just 3-of-18 3-point attempts, missing all nine in the first half. The Razorbacks couldn't build on the momentum from a 17-point victory over Mississippi and have lost three of their last four games.

The Tigers had been just 1-5 against SEC Western Division teams before the victory, and still remain alive in the division race.

"It gives us our confidence back knowing we can win," Tolbert said. "We still have a lot more games left and it gives us the confidence down the stretch."

Auburn led by as many as 11 points three times in the first half, then held on for a 32-25 halftime lead.

Arkansas scored seven straight points to cut it to three with 1:50 left. Then, Quantez Robertson closed with a fast-break layup and a putback at the buzzer that to Heath summed up the night for Arkansas.

"The picture was painted the last possession of the first half when they got that stick-back from the guard," he said.