Hargrove and AU Defense Bite the Bulldogs

Lucas Hargrove drives to the basket.

The Tigers were sharp on defense as they cruised to a lopsided basketball victory over Georgia.

Auburn, Ala.--Lucas Hargrove scored a game-high 24 points and the Auburn Tigers forced 19 turnovers on the way to an 82-63 SEC basketball victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday night.

Hargrove hit 8-14 field goals and was 3-6 on threes. He also pulled in 11 rebounds to lead the Tigers.

"Sometimes you just get that feeling that you can't miss," said Hargrove, who hit threes, layups, hook shots and mid-range runners.

"I give a lot of credit to graduate assistant, DeAntoine Beasley," the senior said. "He has spent a lot of hours with me the last week shooting three-pointers."

Hargrove noted that he enjoyed the comfortable margin of victory. "It was a lot of fun," he said. "This is about the time last year that we got on our roll and hopefully that can happen again this year.

"It was good because sometimes you can work really hard in practice and it doesn't show up in the game. I feel like the coaches pushed us really hard in practice this past week and it showed tonight."

Tay Waller scored 16 points for Auburn, DeWayne Reed added 12 and Frankie Sullivan scored 11 as Auburn improved to 12-12 for the season and 3-6 overall.

Georgia, which fell to 10-12 overall and 2-7 in the SEC, lost despite a terrific performance from Travis Leslie who scored 19 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said a key factor in the victory was controlling Georgia's star player, Trey Thompkins. The 6-10 post player came into the contest averaging 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds, but he fouled out with six points, four rebounds and six turnovers in just 13 minutes of playing time.

"We did a nice job," Lebo said. "Our focus for the last two days was prepping for their offense. They are very good at executing their stuff. We thought they would try to big boy us and try to get it inside against us. Our double-teams against Thompkins were effective and they had some turnovers with him."

Auburn held the upper hand throughout the first half as Lebo substituted heavily with 11 Tigers seeing action in the opening 20 minutes.

Auburn took the lead to start the half and never trailed. The Tigers built the lead to as many as 13 points on an old-fashioned three-point play by Reed with 2:10 left in the half. The Tigers had taken the lead into double figures at the 3:24 mark on a three-point shot from the wing by Reed to make the score 39-29.

The Tigers were on top 45-36 at the break after the officials ruled Tay Waller's off-balance three-point basket did not beat the buzzer.

Auburn built its lead by forcing eight turnovers in the first half and scoring nine points off those plays while giving up just two points on two first half turnovers.

Hargrove led the first half scoring for the Tigers with 16 points as he nailed 3-5 threes.

Tay Waller soars and scores for the Tigers.

Neither team was particularly hot shooting from the field in the first half. Auburn hit 15-36 field goals (41.7 percent) while the Bulldogs made 11-28 field goals (39.3 percent).

The Tigers weren't as sharp in the second half, but outscored Georgia 37-27 to coast to the victory. Lebo was even able to get his walk-ons into the action late in the contest.

For the game the Tigers hit 43.8 percent of their field goals while UGA made 36.5 percent.

The Tigers were 8-27 on threes while Georgia made 5-16.

The Bulldogs, the SEC's top free throw shooting team, made 20-25 at the foul line. Auburn made 18-26.

The Tigers out-rebounded the taller Bulldogs 39-36 and turned the ball over 11 times, eight fewer than Georgia.

The Tigers return to action with a 6 p.m. game on Saturday at Mississippi State.

Box Score

Game Notes:Lebo had praise for walk-on point guard Josh Wallace. The Tigers extended their lead by six points in the first half when he was in the game. The Tigers increased their lead by three points on during his initial appearance in the second half when the game was still in doubt. He played 14 minutes, made his only shot had three assists and no turnovers...Halftime act "Quick Change" proved to be popular with the crowd of 5,552, which gave the the artists a standing ovation...Hargrove's 24 points were his season high. It was his sixth double-double of the season.

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