UCF scored the first 13 points of the game and never trailed en route to an 84-74 victory over Auburn in the Glenn Wilkes Classic second round at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday.
Auburn didn't score its first points until a DeWayne Reed 3-pointer with 13:06 left in the first half. During the drought, the Tigers missed four shots, all 3-pointers, and committed six turnovers before their first points. The Tigers then began chipping away and climbed back into the game after cutting it to 17-10 at 10:33.
Frankie Sullivan led Auburn (1-2) with 22 points while Reed added 15 points and five assists and Lucas Hargrove 12 points. A.J. Tyler led UCF with 19 points and eight rebounds while Dave Diakite had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
"We shot the ball poorly in the first half and didn't defend great," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "The really big difference in the game was their five-man Tyler had 19 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes, and we didn't get anything from our center position. We didn't establish anything in there.
"(Brendon) Knox really struggled tonight and didn't get anything done."
Auburn used a 7-2 run to get as close as 21-17 with 7:32 before the half. UCF (3-0) outscored Auburn 20-7 to end the half leading 41-24.
"We didn't play our principles or do what Coach asked us to do and as a result, you see what happens," said Sullivan. "Sometimes battling back isn't all that good. We just came out lackadaisical. UCF was the better team tonight because we didn't come prepared."
UCF pushed its lead to 49-29 on a 3-pointer by Tyler just over three minutes into the second half.
Auburn then scored 11 straight points in only two minutes to cut it to 49-40 with 15:15 left in the game. A Johnnie Lett bucket in the paint, an Earnest Ross 3-pointer from the corner, a Hargrove layin off a steal on the inbounds pass, a Reed layup, Hargrove basket and two Sullivan free throws after a technical foul on UCF head coach Kirk Speraw got the Tigers back into the game.
As Auburn scored, it was able to set up its full court press that gave the Knights fits.
"I thought the momentum was changing there with our pressing," said Lebo. "We missed about two or three at the rim area. Again, we didn't shoot the ball very well. We didn't get anything inside so we are going to have to rely on 3-point shooting. If you don't shoot it well and we rely on that, we are going to be in for a long night."
The Tigers closed to within 51-44 on a Reed dunk off a steal with 14:14 left in the game. Ross' third trey of the game brought the Tigers to within 53-47 at 13:29. However, that is as close as Auburn would get the rest of the way as UCF stretched the lead back out to 70-49 with under seven minutes to play.
Down 74-54 with 3:24 remaining, Auburn went on another scoring binge as three consecutive 3-pointers by Hargrove, Reed and Sullivan ignited a 15-2 Tiger run in two minutes that made the score, 76-69 with 1:10 to go. The Knights closed it out from the foul line from there.
Auburn only shot 38.2 percent (26-of-68) from the field and 28.2 percent (11-of-39) from 3-point range as 39 of Auburn's 68 shots were from behind the arc. UCF connected on 52.1 percent (25-of-48) of its shots from the field and was 3-of-9 from 3-point range while outscoring the Tigers 31-11 from the free throw line. UCF was 31-of-40 (.775) from the foul line compared to Auburn's 11-of-17 (.647).
The Knights dominated the Tigers in the paint, outscoring them 40-26 while Auburn had the edge in second chance points, 23-10. Auburn was outrebounded 38-32 but the Tigers had an 18-11 edge on the offensive boards. The Tigers cut their turnovers down to 17 while the Knights had 20.
Auburn, which played without senior Tay Waller for the third straight game, returns to action against IUPUI Saturday at 5 pm Central in the Glenn Wilkes Classic third round in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Tigers will then North Carolina State Sunday.