HONOLULU, Hawaii - With 8.6 seconds left Friday morning, Auburn was on the verge of a painful loss. In the final game of the first day in the Diamond Head Classic, homestanding Hawaii had taken its first lead of the game at 62-61 with just 8.6 seconds left.
Rob Chubb slams home the game-winning dunk against Hawaii/Todd Van Emst photos
But moments later, Auburn players and coaches were celebrating.
Center Rob Chubb took a fastbreak pass from point guard Varez Ward and slammed it home with 3.9 seconds left. Chris Denson stole the inbounds and made two free throws. The Tigers won 65-62 before a crowd of more than 8,000 n the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Tigers moved to 8-1, their best start since the championship season of 1999-2000. They play Long Beach State, a 68-58 win over No. 14 Xavier, tonight at 10 CST. The game will be televised by ESPN 3.
“We were resilient tonight,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “Offensively, we weren’t always getting what we wanted. We didn’t hang our heads. We battled defensively. We battled on the backboard. That play we ran, we work on it over and over and over and over. When you get in these situations, there is no panic. It is silly how that play works.”
Chubb finished with 14 points, 10 in the second half. Frankie Sullivan had 17 points seven rebounds and six assists. Kenney Gabriel had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Chubb said the Rainbow Warriors concentrated on Ward, leaving him open.
“They were all over Varez,” Chubb said. “He gets it and takes it coast to coast and Hawaii thought it was going to be in his hands for the finish. They all collapsed on him, and he threw it to me. It left me wide open for a finish."
Vander Joaquim gave Hawaii its first lead of the game at 62-61on a shot near the basket. After Auburn’s final timeout, Ward broke the press and found Chubb open on the elbow.
Hawaii, after trailing 35-29 at halftime, tied it for the first time at 43-43, but Auburn answered with an 8-1 run to take a 51-44 lead with 8:33 to go. Chubb scored six straight points for the Tigers and Gabriel made a pair of free throws and a 12-foot bank shot to give Auburn a 59-51 lead 2:32 remaining.
"That was a real big game,” said Sullivan, who could breathe a sigh of relief after missing two free throws to open the door for Hawaii in the final seconds. “Adversity hit us, and we did great with that. Hawaii is a great team. We knew they had great shooters. They played a great game. The crowd was behind them. We played a great game and came out with the win.”
Auburn outshot Hawaii 48.1 percent to 43.1 percent from the field. The Tigers were 6-of-19 from 3-point range and the Rainbow Warriors were 5-of-17. Hawaii was 13-of-23 from the foul line to 7-of-11 for Auburn.
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