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Painful process for AU hoops

AUBURN – The Global Sports Hoops Showcase wasn’t supposed to go like this for Auburn. It was supposed to be an opportunity to get three wins in three days at the new Auburn Arena.

Andre Malone led Auburn in scoring for the second consecutive game/Todd Van Emst photo

Instead, the Tigers are reeling. They faded down the stretch Saturday and fell to previously winless Campbell University, a Baptist university in Buies Creek, N.C. On Friday, they lost 79-68 to Samford, a Baptist university from Homewood. To avoid going winless in their own tournament, they’ll have to beat Middle Tennessee State today at 5 p.m.

Auburn fell to 0-3 on the season and has yet to win a game in its new home. Campbell moved to 2-2.

First-year Auburn coach Tony Barbee was in the locker room with his players for more than 30 minutes before meeting with reporters.

“It’s the growing pains I’ve been talking about since I’ve been here,” Barbee said. “It’s part of it, understanding how to win. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. We’ve put ourselves in position in all three games to win. We just don’t quite understand how to win. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process you have to go through.

“It’s not pleasant. It doesn’t feel good. It is a hurt locker room. You’ve got a hurt coach. I hate losing more than I like winning. We are going to get there. It’s a long year. It’s a learning year, and we have to catch on.”

Andre Malone’s 3-pointer gave the Tigers 49-47 lead over Campbell with 6:28 left in the game. But just like that, their offense sputtered and stopped. They didn’t score again until Malone hit a jumper with nine seconds left. By then, it was too late.

The Tigers outrebounded the Camels 37-30, but they had 24 turnovers that proved too much to overcome.

“You can’t contribute to your own demise,” Barbee said. “You have to make the other team beat you. Give Campbell credit. They made some plays, made some shots, made some free throws down the stretch. But we did more to contribute to our own demise than they did.”

Malone, who scored 28 points in Friday’s loss to Samford, scored 17 against Campbell. He was 5-of-8 from 3-point range. A sophomore, Malone knows what is ahead when the SEC season arrives.

“We are trying to figure it out,” Malone said. “If we are losing to teams like this, it’s going to be a rough season. We have to find a way to turn that around.”

For the second consecutive game, Malone was the only Tiger in double figures.

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