AUBURN, Ala. – There are two telling numbers on the final stat sheet that write nearly the entire story Tuesday night in Auburn Arena.
Number No. 1, Tennessee Tech was 1-for-18 from 3-point range.
Number No. 2, host Auburn attempted 40 free throws. Tech tried 17.
Combined with all of the other stats – which were pretty even – those factors helped add up to a frustrating, 81-62 non-conference loss for the Golden Eagles (6-5) in their first meeting with the Tigers in 23 years.
Senior Jud Dillard overcame two early fouls whistled on him in the first two minutes, leading all scorers with 22 points, going 6-for-6 at the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds and two steals. Dennis Ogbe was the only other Golden Eagle to reach double figures, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Anthony Morse added eight points and seven rebounds, along with three blocked shots and two steals.
Guard Chris Denson topped Auburn with 20 points, going 9-for-10 at the free throw line. Jordan Price added 12 and Josh Wallace 11 for Auburn (5-5).
The Golden Eagles shot 37.3 percent from the floor, hindered by the 1-for-18 outside the arc, a season-low 5.6 percent. Tech was 11-for-17 at the free throw line. Auburn was 30-for-40 at the line to support its 7-for-18 from 3-point range and 43.1 percent overall shooting.
Auburn held a slim, 42-38 edge in rebounds while turnovers finished even at 17-17.
Three consecutive 3-pointers by Price midway in the first half helped Auburn pry open a close game and build a double-figure lead. Down 9-4, the 3-pointers made it an 18-8 difference and the Golden Eagles began working from behind to slice the deficit.
Price himself helped Tech's cause, as his antics and facial expressions following the third trey caught the attention of the officials and drew a technical foul.
But Tech couldn't take advantage, missing shots when it had the chance. And, missing shots when it had second chances. Auburn pulled on top by 17 by halftime, 38-21.
That difference was enough, despite Tech playing even with the home team in the second half. Auburn had a 43-41 scoring edge after the break.
Dillard scored the first six points in the second half as Tech pulled to within 11 points, 38-27. A layup by Lanerryl Johnson with 15:25 to play brought Tech within 12 one final time, 45-33.
A 10-2 Auburn run spread the difference to 20 points, 55-35, and the margin grew to as many as 28 points.
Freshman DeOndre Haynes saw his first action of the season, playing 14 minutes off the bench. He had four points and two steals.
Tech's lengthy road December stretch continues with a flight to Oklahoma Wednesday, where the Golden Eagles will face No. 24 Oklahoma State Saturday at 12 p.m.
The contest against the OSU Cowboys is the team's final game before a holiday break. The schedule will resume on Saturday, Dec. 29, when Tech opens Ohio Valley Conference play at Jacksonville State.