Ward, free throws help Auburn defeat Georgia 59-51

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Varez Ward scored 17 points and led a productive night at the free-throw line for Auburn in a 59-51 win over Georgia on Wednesday night.

Ward hit all 12 of his free throw attempts as Auburn (13-9, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) shot 80.6 percent (25 of 31) from the line.

Kenny Gabriel added 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers, who snapped a two-game skid.

Gerald Robinson led Georgia (10-11, 1-6) with 16 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late. Dustin Ware scored 10 points and Donte' Williams added nine points and nine rebounds.

Georgia also had a good night from the line, shooting 19 of 23 (82.6 percent), as both teams made more free throws than field goals.

Auburn hit 16 of 48 (33.3 percent) from the field, and held the Bulldogs to just 25 percent shooting (13 of 52).

After a disastrous offensive first half, Georgia used a 12-4 run out of the break to cut into an 11-point Auburn lead. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ended the spurt with two free throws to make it 30-27 with 14:55 remaining.

The Tigers answered back with a flurry of six points in 44 seconds to build their lead to 36-27 with 13:49 left.

Georgia cut its deficit to three, 45-42, on a Williams' alley-oop dunk with 4:58 to go. It was the third time the Bulldogs cut Auburn's advantage to a three in a 10-minute span.

Auburn led by no fewer than five points for most of the rest of the half, until Robinson's layup in transition brought the Bulldogs within 51-49 with 51.8 seconds left.

It was the closest Georgia had been since the 7:56 mark of the first half.

Auburn then made it a two-basket game as Gabriel converted a three-point play on the Tigers' next possession. But Robinson answered with two free throws to set the score at 54-51 with 26.5 seconds to play.

Auburn would pull away from there.

Allen Payne hit two free throws for the Tigers, before Georgia missed on two shots near the rim on its next possession.

Gabriel hit three free throws in the final 13.1 seconds to ice the win.

A matchup of the two lowest-scoring teams in SEC play certainly lived down to its billing early.

Auburn missed its first 12 field goals, finally breaking the drought on a Sullivan 3-pointer with 10:45 left in the first half.

Fortunately for the Tigers, Georgia made only three of its first 12 shots, and Sullivan's 3 closed the Bulldogs' lead to 9-7.

It also started a 20-1 Tigers run, ending on a Rob Chubb hook shot in the lane to build Auburn's lead to 22-10 with 3:19 to go.

Auburn, which started the game down 7-0, ended the first half on a 26-8 run to take a 26-15 lead into the break.

Georgia, after hitting its first two shots, finished the half at 17.4 percent (4 of 23), including a stretch without a field goal that covered 9:34, leading to its lowest first-half scoring output of the year and the fewest first-half points Auburn has given up this season.

The Tigers hit 10 of 16 shots (62.5 percent) after their frigid start, with Ward (seven points) and Gabriel (six points) leading the way.

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