DePaul 80, Auburn 76

The Sports Xchange

AUBURN, Ala. -- DePaul made just enough plays down the stretch to squeak out an 80-76 victory at Auburn on Friday in the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 21 points, and Brandon Young added 19 for the Blue Demons, who picked up their first ever win in the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Auburn had the ball down by two points with 20 seconds to play, when Melvin came up with a steal and converted a pair of clinching free throws. The Tigers (2-5) have lost three consecutive games and have yet to post a victory in six years of the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Down by four at the half, the Blue Demons (4-3) grabbed the lead on Charles McKinney's jumper two minutes into the second half and never trailed again.

Auburn's Noel Johnson hit a pair big shots late, tying the game on a straight-away 3-pointer off a well-executed play out of timeout. But the Tigers turned it over on missed two shots on their final possessions.

Frankie Sullivan led Auburn with 28 points, and Rob Chubb added 17.

In a back-and-forth first half, neither team led by more than six. There were five ties and six lead changes.

Sullivan had a big first half, despite hurting his left wrist early on a hard foul by DePaul's Donnavan Kirk. Sullivan grimaced as he walked off the court, but returned later in the half with the wrist taped and hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Auburn a 19-15 lead with 14 minutes to go before half.

The senior guard had 20 points at the break, helping Auburn take a 46-42 lead into intermission.

Brandon Young kept the Blue Demons close with 13 points in the first half, but also picked up a technical foul for taunting the Auburn student section after hitting a 3-pointer.

NOTES: Both teams were picked to finish at or near the bottom on their conferences and are off to uneven starts. ... Auburn hosts Gambling State on Dec. 11. ... DePaul travels across town to face Chicago State on Wednesday. ... Sullivan entered the game third in active SEC career scorers with 1,201 points. ... Auburn hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. ... Former DePaul standout Stephen Howard was an analyst for the ESPNU broadcast. Howard is a member of the Blue Demons' Hall of Fame.