Coastal Carolina beats Auburn 58-54
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Badou Diagne and Warren Gillis hit jumpers in the final minute and Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis won in the first trip back to his former stomping grounds, 58-54 over Auburn on Friday night.
Josh Cameron's 22 points paced Coastal Carolina (6-2), who trailed by as many as 11 in the second half.
''I give a lot of credit to our team,'' Ellis said. ''We were resilient. I thought when Auburn started the game out, I didn't think they were going to miss. Fortunately, they did.''
Auburn's KT Harrell led all scorers with 23 points, including seven 3-pointers, a career high. The senior guard has led Auburn (3-4) in scoring in six of its seven games this season.
The Tigers made 11 3-pointers, but made just six other field goals in the loss. In the paint, Auburn was outrebounded 41-32, an area that was the difference in the game according to Ellis.
''Three-point shots were the difference in the game for them, but rebounding was the difference for us,'' Ellis said.
Auburn finished the final 13 minutes of the game 2 of 16 from the floor, and no Tiger besides Harrell made a field goal in the final 14:51.
Bruce Pearl, the man trying to return the Tigers to the heights they achieved in the early 2000s under Ellis, said his team struggled to find support for Harrell.
''Jordon (Granger) and KT (Harrell) were the only two guys who really played well tonight,'' Pearl said. ''It's hard to win against a good team when that's the case.''
The Tigers opened the game on a 9-0 run, which included two 3s from Harrell. Auburn stretched an early lead to 14, but the Chanticleers battled back, whittling the deficit to 27-23 at halftime.
Auburn held a lead for much of the second half, but a prolonged scoring drought allowed the Chanticleers to take a lead with three minutes remaining that they'd never relinquish.
It was a victorious return for Ellis, who said his return was overdue and he hoped the game could benefit both programs.
''The last two days have been a lot,'' Ellis said. ''I'm very tired, but I'm very thankful. I think it'll sink in in a couple of days how good this was.''
Ellis, who coached Auburn from 1994 to 2004, led the Tigers to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a No. 1 seed and Sweet 16 appearance in 1999.
Auburn: The Tigers have zero NCAA Tournament appearances since Cliff Ellis was fired in 2004. Ellis has led Coastal Carolina to one tournament appearance (2014) since taking over in 2007.
Coastal Carolina: Ellis moves to 3-0 career against his former team, with tonight's victory his first since his program exit in 2004.
World Series champion and former Auburn pitcher Tim Hudson was in attendance at Friday night's game. 2013 PGA Championship champion Jason Dufner was also in attendance.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
KT Harrell has taken it to the next level in the Auburn Arena, averaging 22.3 points at home compared to 15.0 away from the Plains.
Auburn: Visits Clemson on Dec. 14.
Coastal Carolina: Hosts Warren Wilson on Thursday.