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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to top an upset-minded Texas Southern team 61-60 on Tuesday night.
Cinmeon Bowers finally found his game late in the second half, shaking off a rough first half to finish with a double-double effort of 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Tigers (6-5) claimed their third straight win.
"We've got a long way to go," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "We're not a very good basketball team yet. But I'm proud of the way they competed."
With Auburn trailing 58-55 with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Bowers blocked a Madarious Gibbs shot then finished with a layup to pull Auburn within a point. K.C. Ross-Miller then stole an errant Deverell Biggs pass and KT Harrell finished with a putback to give Auburn its first lead since 10-8 with 13:51 left in the first half.
Auburn scored 15 points off turnovers in the second half.
Harrell led Auburn with 14 points, Antoine Mason scored 13 and Ross-Miller, who drained two game-winning free throws with 14 seconds left, added 11.
Texas Southern (2-9) was led by Jason Carter's 16 points and five rebounds. Gibbs scored 13 and Chris Thomas had 11 for the Tigers, who were unable to pick up their second straight win over a power conference foe after topping Michigan State on Saturday.
"We let down at the wrong time," Texas Southern coach Mike Davis said. "This was a game I thought we had a chance to win ... but again you cannot give up 15 points off of turnovers in the second half."
The visiting Tigers took a seven-point lead after a 9-0 run over a period of 5:25 in the first half, and would not relinquish the lead until Harrell's putback with 1:25 left in the second period.
Bowers had a miserable first half, starting out 1-of-6 from the floor, but he shot 50 percent in the second half to give the home-standing Tigers a lift in picking up his seventh double-double of the season.
"Cinmeon continues to be inconsistent," Pearl said. "I know he had a double-double tonight, but he was terribly inconsistent. Early in the game we got him the ball a bunch, and he couldn't finish. That takes the wind out of your sails a bit."
Texas Southern: Turnovers were a killer for Texas Southern, as they turned the ball over seven times after taking the 11-point lead with 12:47 to go. The visiting Tigers trailed for only 3:01 in the game.
Auburn: With Bowers, Harrell, Mason and Ross-Miller all reaching double digits, the Tigers moved to 6-0 on the young season when four or more players score in double figures. They are 0-5 when three or fewer do so.
Auburn's win Tuesday night was its third on the season after trailing by 11 points in the second half. The Tigers rallied to defeat Milwaukee in the season opener and Xavier in double overtime on Saturday.
Tahj Shamsid-Deen had a night to forget for Auburn, fouling out with no points and one assist in 15 minutes. "He was not very productive," Pearl said. "To still be able to win the game when my best defender wasn't available is good."
Tuesday night's loss to Auburn was Texas Southern's 10th road trip in 11 games this season, with five more to go before a home conference game January 17th. "No one is coming to see us play in November or December," Davis said. "They are only going to come to the conference games. We are not worried about our record, but raising money for our program."
Auburn hosts Middle Tennessee State on Monday
Texas Southern travels to Kansas State on Sunday.
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