CHARLESTON, S.C. - Despite 20 stitches in his right arm, Frankie Sullivan had 23 points and five assists, but it wasn't enough Sunday as Auburn lost 73-63 in the third round of the Charleston Clasic at TD Arena.
Auburn coach Tony Barbee says Tigers must get toughter/Todd Van Emst photo
Dayton (3-1) ended the first half on a 13-2 run to break open a tight game and lead 35-25 at halftime. After Sullivan hit a 3-pointer to give Auburn a 23-22 lead with 6:02 left, the Tigers only scored on a Shaquille Johnson layup the rest of the half.
"We have a lot of areas we have to improve in, and we have to improve in them quickly,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “The biggest one is our level of toughness. That is the bottom line of what this game came down to. It wasn’t the officials as to why they shot 36 free throws, and we shot only 17. It was our lack of toughness.
“They were tough on every catch. They were tough on every drive. They were tough on every post up, and we weren’t. That is the bottom line in this game. That is why we got so many balls knocked out of our hands, balls that just slipped out of our hands while we fumbled so many rebounds. It is all about our level of toughness, which is almost non-existent.”
Auburn (2-2) scored the first four points of the second half to close to within six, but Dayton used an 11-1 run to extend its lead to 49-33 with 14:53 left. The Tigers closed it to 10 several times but couldn’t get any closer.
“They out-toughed us, and that is supposed to be our motto,” said Sullivan. “In the two games we lost this year, that’s where we lost it. It is toughness and rebounding. We got outrebounded and we got out-toughed in this game."
The game got off to a quick start with both teams shooting over 63 percent from the field as Auburn held a 12-11 lead just over four minutes in.
Dayton outshot Auburn from the foul line, 27-of-36 to 13-of-17 and outrebounded the Tigers 33-27. Auburn shot 41.8 percent from the field to Dayton’s 46.7 percent while both teams struggled from 3 as Auburn was 4-of-16 and Dayton 4-of-13.