Schedule plays role in Auburn loss


Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Jeff Lebo wasn't making any excuses.

Alex Tyus, Rasheem Barrett
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Alex Tyus, Rasheem Barrett

Florida's Alex Tyus (23) goes up for two points with Auburn's Rasheem Barrett (21) unable to stop the shot in the 2nd half of Auburn Florida Basketball play in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008. Florida defeated Auburn 72-56.

Phil Sandlin/The Associated Press

When asked, however, the Auburn coach admitted his team was at a huge disadvantage during Saturday's 72-56 loss to Florida in the O'Connell Center.

The Tigers were playing their second game in a frantic 36 hours that included a 76-70 loss to Arkansas late Thursday night in Auburn, Ala.

Following the loss, the team left Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum for the airport, where it was to catch a charter flight to Gainesville. Severe thunderstorms, however, delayed the flight, and the Tigers didn't arrive at their hotel in Gainesville until 4 a.m. Friday.

Then, at noon Saturday, the Tigers were racing up and down the court with the Gators.

"When you only play about six guys, it's big," Lebo said. "I didn't like the fact that we had to play Thursday and then turn around and play Saturday in what was essentially a morning (11 a.m. Central time) game for us.

"That's tough for our kids. I felt bad for our kids. It was a tough turnaround for us."

The quick turnaround proved costly. The Tigers seemed to show signs of fatigue late. Auburn failed to score over the final 4:30 and didn't make a field goal over the final 5:16.

"We ran out of steam at the end," Lebo said.

The Tigers were battling hard, closing Florida's lead to 58-54 when Frank Tolbert hit a short jumper for two of his 10 points. But that would be the last field goal for the Tigers.

"Fatigue was part of it," Lebo said. "Bad decision making was the other."

The Tigers, who are already thin due to injuries, suffered another blow midway through the first half when leading scorer Rasheem Barrett went to the locker room after suffering an ankle injury. Barrett returned, but finished with just seven points in 23 minutes, less than half his average.

"Even after he hurt it, the time he was out there, he was hobbling," Lebo said.

Lebo said Barrett's status for Wednesday's game at LSU is questionable. The Tigers are hoping the injury isn't severe.

"You just got to look at the positive side: Hopefully it's not that bad and they can come back and help us out," Tolbert said.

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