Hawaii beats Auburn to finish 3rd in Diamond Head Classic
HONOLULU (AP) Roderick Bobbitt made his name on defense last season. This season, the senior guard is showing he can score as well.
Bobbitt scored 22 of his 30 points in the second half and Hawaii beat Auburn 79-67 on Friday in the third-place game in the Diamond Head Classic.
Bobbitt was 6 of 7 from 3-point range, 8 of 13 overall and made all eight of his free throws. Stefan Jankovic added 21 points, hitting three 3-pointers, and had eight rebounds for the Rainbow Warriors (9-2).
''We played to the end,'' said Bobbitt, the reigning Big West defensive player of the year. ''We just came together and played hard. That's what we did a got the `W.'''
Kareem Canty led Auburn (6-5) with 22 points and eight assists. Bryce Brown added 20 points, and Tyler Harris had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Auburn shot 12 of 29 from behind the arc and led by as many as nine with 9:29 remaining.
''We expected this to be a physical, hard-fought game,'' Hawaii first-year coach Eran Ganot said. ''We know Bruce Pearl-coached teams. I have so much respect for him and their program. I'm pleased and proud of our guys to fight through some things during the court of the event and within games.''
There were four ties and eight lead changes in the game.
Auburn led 30-29 at the half.
Bobbitt was coming off a career-best 32 points Wednesday in a semifinal loss to third-ranked Oklahoma.
Each team committed 10 first-half fouls, but Auburn was whistled for 18 second-half fouls to 10 for Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors attempted 34 free throws, making 25 of them, while Auburn was 9 of 13.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl refused to use it as an excuse.
''We had a nine-point lead in the second half and we had opportunities to win the game and we didn't make the plays,'' Pearl said. ''What you do as a coach is you worry about things you can control. To do anything other than that would be to take away from Hawaii's victory.''
Hawaii took the lead for good at 64-63 on Bobbitt's two free throws with 6:14 left.
Pearl drew a technical foul and Bobbitt made both free throws, part of a 9-0 run for the Rainbow Warriors that was capped by a basket by Isaac Fleming.
Canty scored four straight points for the Tigers to make it 71-67 with 2:58 remaining. However, Hawaii scored the final eight points.
''They were hitting some pretty tough shots,'' Bobbitt said. ''We were contesting them and they were falling. We just kept playing defense hard and putting hands up. We boxed out on defense and then we were patient on offense.''
It is the best start to a season for the Rainbow Warriors since 2004. They matched last season's third-place finish in the Diamond Head Classic, their best showing in the seven-year history of the eight-team tournament.
It was Hawaii's first win in the series. Auburn won both of the first two games against the Rainbow Warriors, most recently in the 2011 Diamond Head Classic.
Auburn: A number of Tigers battled foul trouble in the second half. Horace Spencer fouled with 5:29 remaining and Harris fouled out at the 2:03 mark. Jordon Granger and Canty were called for four fouls apiece.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors held the edge in both second-chance points (13-3) and bench points (15-6).
Auburn was held well below its season average of 80.5 points per game. It was the second straight game the Tigers struggled to score. They were held to a season-low 51 points in an 18-point loss to Harvard Wednesday.
''I think our kids competed,'' Pearl said. ''We've got some tremendous injuries, but we have way too many moments where teams go on runs that we need to be more solid on.''
Hawaii improved to 12-8 in the Diamond Head Classic, which is played on its home court at the 10,300-seat Stan Sheriff Center. It was the third straight season going 2-1 in the tournament and fifth time overall it achieved a winning record.
Auburn will host Tennessee on Jan. 2.
Hawaii will host Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday.