Auburn Basketball drops Heartbreaker to Rhode Island, 78-72
Xavier Munford sent the game into double overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer and scored a career-high 33 points on eight treys to lead Rhode Island to a 78-72 win over Auburn for the Rams first win of the season in Auburn Arena on Sunday. Freshman Jordan Price scored a career-high 19 points on 5-of-8 treys to lead Auburn.
The Tigers had a 65-61 lead with 24 seconds to play in the first overtime, but Munford's jumper brought the Rams to within 2 and Noel Johnson had a chance to ice the game with two foul shots with 11 seconds left, but he split the pair. Auburn failed to foul and Munford sank a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer to silence the building.
"A team that shoots 35 percent from the floor and scores 55 a game, that has not cracked 60 in five games, scored (78)," said Barbee. "That's the difference in the game.
"We put ourselves in a chance to win in overtime and then we didn't execute. We were up 3 with 7 seconds to go. We came out of a time out where we say that we're fouling as soon as they cross half court, and we don't foul. There's your game. It would've been two seconds on the clock. We're up 3, and they're shooting two free throws. We didn't execute and it was my veteran group."
Nikola Malesevic, who had 19 points, six rebounds and three steals, for Rhode Island, opened the second overtime with a layup, but Frankie Sullivan's 3-pointer seconds later regained the lead for Auburn at 69-68 with 4:21 t5o play.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Malesevic and Munford then sealed it for Rhode Island (1-5) as the Rams took a 74-69 lead with 59 seconds left. Allen Payne's 3 brought the Tigers to within 74-72 with 41 seconds to play, but Munford and Malesevic iced it at the foul line by making all four free throws.
Auburn (2-4) jumped out to a 22-11 lead just over eight minutes into the game by making seven of its first 10 shots, and the Tigers led 37-32 at the half. The Tigers were in control the whole way until the Rams tied it for the first time at 53 with 7:20 remaining in regulation.
Rhode Island, which lost to Loyola (Md.) 58-54 in overtime on Friday, took its first lead of the game on a Malesevic layup with 4:31 to go.
"Coach told us to look in the mirror and see what we did right in the game or what our role is as a player on the team," said Price. "We just need to look in the mirror and reevaluate ourselves and come back to practice with the mindset of just getting better, and we need to focus more on our defensive sets at the end of the game and whatever our coach is telling us to do. We had a lot of breakdowns towards the end so we just need to focus on that."
Johnson added 13 points on 4-of-6 three-pointers for the Tigers. Former Auburn guard, Andre Malone, added 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 3-of-5 three-pointers for Rhode Island.
Auburn, which shot 63.6 percent in the first half, finished 45.2 percent from the floor for the game while Rhode Island shot 40.0 percent. The Tigers went 11-of-27 (.407) from 3-point range while the Rams were 13-of-26.
Rhode Island outscored Auburn 30-13 in points off turnovers as the Tigers committed 19 turnovers to the Rams' 15.
The Tigers play the second game of its six-game home stand against DePaul on Friday at 8 pm Central in the SEC-Big East Challenge on ESPNU.