More clutch plays

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn has been in position to win four of its five conference games in the final minutes, but has come up short each time.

Dixon-Tatum had 12 points and 13 rebounds against Mississippi State.

If the Tigers, 8-8 overall and 0-5 in the SEC, are to pick up their first conference win at Arkansas Saturday, they’ll need to make more plays in the clutch.

“You have to play with confidence and focus and poise down the stretch, no matter where you play, home or on the road,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “Games aren’t won or lost on fancy offense or guys making big shots, it’s guys making plays. Guys making big plays at the end of games.

“Whether it’s a stick-back, a tip-back, an offensive rebound, a blocked shot out of nowhere, a steal, a dive on a loose ball, we have to get more guys making more plays in the clutch, not necessarily making more shots.”

Auburn is coming off an 82-74 loss at Mississippi State. Both center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Allen Payne had double-doubles against the Bulldogs, but the Tigers’ bench was held scoreless.

“You can’t play five guys 40 minutes so when those guys get their opportunities off the bench they need to be ready to contribute,” Barbee said.

Arkansas comes into the game with a 12-6 record, but just 1-4 in the SEC. The Razorbacks are 10-1 at home including an overtime win over Kentucky a couple of weeks ago.

Junior guard Rashad Madden leads Arkansas averaging 11.9 points per game. Sophomore guard Michael Qualls averages 11.8 points, and freshman forward Bobby Portis averages 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds.

“I have never seen a team like that that plays so different from home and the road,” Barbee said. “A team that presses 94 feet for 40 minutes at home and then presses very little on the road. That’s their staple, that’s what they do.

“That’s what makes it hard, coupled with the environment. You have 20,000 people in there screaming, going crazy and supporting their team. They play off that energy.”

Tipoff at Bud Walton Arena is set for 5 p.m. CT and the game will be carried on FSN.

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