Reed leads Auburn past UT Martin in NIT

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AUBURN — DeWayne Reed scored 23 points and Quantez Robertson added 19 — both career highs — to lead Auburn to an 87-82 victory over Tennessee-Martin in the opening round of the NIT on Wednesday night.

Reed made five 3-pointers for the Tigers (23-11), who hit a season-high 14 from beyond the arc in their first postseason game since 2003. Auburn faces the Northwestern-Tulsa winner on Friday night.

Lester Hudson, the nation’s No. 2 scorer, led the Skyhawks (22-10) with 33 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Ohio Valley Conference regular season champions were making their first Division I postseason appearance.

UT Martin trailed by 15 points midway through the second half, but made it tight at the end.

Auburn hit six of 10 free throws over the final 52 seconds to seal the win.

The Tigers had revived NCAA tournament hopes by winning nine of 10 games, but didn’t receive an invite after losing to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference semifinals. They got a scare despite dominating early.

The Skyhawks pulled to within 77-72 on Hudson’s long 3-pointer over Frankie Sullivan with 1:34 left.

Reed answered with a short jumper in heavy traffic. He then grabbed a loose ball away from Hudson and hit Robertson for an alley-oop to push the lead back to nine.

Hudson struck again, hitting all three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt with 54 seconds left. Olajide Hay’s putback cut the lead back to five with 39 seconds remaining but Reed and Robertson put the game away at the line.

Robertson had six rebounds, six assists and four steals for Auburn, which made 14 of 29 3s. Korvotney Barber added 10 points and eight boards while Frankie Sullivan also scored 10.

Reuben Clayton and Benzor Simmons each had 12 points for UT Martin,

But the Tigers went to the line 35 times and made 21, compared to just 11-of-14 for UT Martin.

Auburn hit four 3-pointers during an 18-2 run to build a 19-point lead late in the first half even with Barber and Tay Waller on the bench with two fouls apiece. Auburn managed to contain Hudson for nearly 17 minutes. Then he set up one 3-pointer with a drive and dish, hit two of his own and had a steal and dunk in a whirlwind 91-second spurt.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo, a former Tennessee Tech coach in the OVC, is now 10-0 against UT Martin.