AUBURN--Tay Waller scored a season-high 29 points on a season-high seven 3-pointers to lead Auburn to a 92-83 victory over Arkansas on Saturday in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers outscored the SEC Western Division-leading Razorbacks 13-4 in the final 2:44.
Auburn shot an SEC-best 60.9 percent from the floor, went 11-of-19 (.579) from 3-point range and was 25-of-33 (.758) from the foul line in front of a crowd of 8,312. The Tigers shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the first half and bettered that with 64.0 percent second half shooting, making 13 of its final 18 shots from the field.
With the score tied at 79, Waller gave Auburn the lead for good on a 15-footer at the foul line on a curl called `snowball' with 2:44 remaining. That shot jumpstarted a 7-0 Tiger run for an 86-79 lead with 41 seconds left. Frankie Sullivan, who finished with 11 points, made all four of his free throw attempts in the final 34 seconds to preserve the victory.
"Every time we shoot the ball well, we win," said Waller. "Tonight, it was just falling. As you can see, we played better once we made some shots. It felt really good because I have not had a game like this all year."
Auburn improved to 13-14 overall and 4-8 in the SEC while Arkansas fell into a tie for the Western Division lead with Mississippi State at 14-13 overall and 7-5 in the league.
"It doesn't matter if I put him down or put him in the locker room, when he comes in he's going to shoot," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "He's one of those kids where there's not a shot that he doesn't like or a shot that he doesn't think he can make. He takes some teeth-clinchers that I have to chew on occasionally, but he has the ability to make them so I have to give him the chance when he gets going. "Tay was terrific offensively for the whole game. He was outstanding tonight making shots from the three."
Auburn made 7-of-11 shots from 3-point range en route to a 42-36 halftime lead after enjoying its largest lead of nine at 42-33. The Tigers led 55-49 with 14 minutes to play but Arkansas made back-to-back treys from Rotnei Clarke and Stefan Welsh to tie it at 55 two minutes later.
The Hogs scored eight straight points to take their largest lead of the game at 63-58 with 9:22 left. Waller nailed a 3-pointer to put Auburn back ahead at 66-65 and the game was on. Waller tied it again at 70 on yet another trey and the teams went back and forth until the Tigers game-deciding run as Auburn's defense stopped Arkansas on three straight possessions.
DeWayne Reed had 17 points making 5-of-7 shots, turning in back-to-back games totaling 39 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field while making 14-of-15 foul shots. Reed bounced out of his previous four game slump when he shot only 28 percent from the field while going only 5-of-21 from 3-point range.
"Tay had a good game tonight," said Lucas Hargrove, who had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. "Reed did a good job controlling the team and telling us what to do. I had a little trouble guarding Marshawn Powell. Anytime you can get an SEC win late in the season, it means you are getting on a roll. With the conference tournament coming up, it is good to get everyone on the same page."
Brendon Knox added 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Arkansas, which outscored Auburn 50-30 in the paint, was led by 6-foot-7 freshman Marshawn Powell's 23 points and seven rebounds.
Courtney Fortson, who torched Auburn for 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Arkansas' 82-79 overtime win two weeks ago in Fayetteville, had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Clarke had 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
It was the most points Auburn scored in the six-year coach Jeff Lebo era, and the most the Tigers scored against an SEC opponent since the nation's fourth-ranked Tigers defeated Alabama 93-61 in the 1999 SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Arkansas wasn't too shabby either shooting as the Razorbacks went 50 percent from the field, taking 20 more shots from the field than Auburn. The Hogs only went 6-of-21 from 3-point range and were 11-of-15 at the foul line.
Auburn committed 19 turnovers to Arkansas' 14, but the teams had 22 points apiece off turnovers.
Auburn plays at Ole Miss in Tad Smith Coliseum on Wednesday at 7 pm Central on the SEC Network before coming home to play the final two games in the 42-year Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum history against LSU on Feb. 27 and Mississippi State on March 3.