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Auburn hangs on for 78-73 win

AUBURN, Ala. -- Four Auburn players scored in double-figures led by senior Chris Denson’s 17 as the Tigers held on for a 78-73 win over Tennessee State Tuesday night at the Auburn Arena.

Denson continued his strong play against TSU/Todd Van Emst photo

Tennessee State, which fell to 0-7 on the season, kept it tight for much of the game, trailing 72-70 with 40 seconds after a 3-pointer by Jacquan Nobles. But Auburn made 6-of-8 free throws including 4-of-4 by Denson in the final 35 seconds to seal the victory.

“When you are playing against a team that is 0-6, you know they are going to fight their tails off to try and get a win. I thought we came out a little flat,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “I don’t know if we were thinking about Thanksgiving break or whatever the case may be, but any time we get an opportunity to step on that floor we have got to be prepared, we have got to be excited and we’ve got to bring the energy.

“I thought they brought the energy to us, and that was evident in a very crucial stat. They won the 50/50 ball battle, and that is a direct relationship to how hard that we are playing. I didn’t think we played very hard tonight. We lost the 50/50 ball battle and they shot almost 60 percent from the floor. But at the end of the day, a win is a win, and I keep saying we are an 80 percent free throw shooting team and that saved us today. We stepped to the line and made free throws, and shot over 80 percent.”

All of Denson’s points came in the second half on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Auburn made a season-high 30-of-37 free throws and only committed seven turnovers.

Tahj Shamsid-Deen added a career-high 16 points, KT Harrell had 14 and Allen Payne had 13, six rebounds and three steals as Auburn improved to 4-1 on the season.

“I’m not happy with how we played, but a win is a win and I’m always happy about that. Those are hard to come by,” Payne said. “Definitely not happy with how I played individually and how we played as a team, especially on the defensive end. We gave up 56.5 percent shooting and that’s unacceptable for this team.”

Nobles led TSU with 22 points. Patrick Miller added 17 points and eight assists while Kennedy Eubanks had 17 points and nine rebounds.

Auburn will return to action next Monday at Iowa State in the SEC/Big XII Challenge. The game will be carried on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. CT.

BOX SCORE: AUBURN 78, TENNESSEE STATE 73

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