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LeMelle's free throws with 22.9 ticks left stand up for Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- It's no fun losing your first five
conference games, even for a team with four freshmen starters.

The Auburn Tigers got a chance to start having fun Saturday as
they held on to defeat Georgia 66-65 for their first Southeastern
Conference win.

"It means a lot. We have been struggling lately," freshman
Josh Dollard said. "People tell us that wins will come, that we
are a young team and to just keep on playing. As a team, we're
tired of hearing that."

Auburn (9-8, 1-5) won't have to hear about losing for at least a
few days. Ronny LeMelle hit two clutch free throws with 22.9
seconds to play as Auburn came from behind in the second half to
beat Georgia 66-65.

The 0-5 conference start was Auburn's worst since the Tigers
started the 1993-94 conference season 0-10.

"It helps, no doubt about it," Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo said of
the win. "We still have areas we struggle in, but it helps to have
a win. When we study film, there's a different look in their eye
after a win."

LeMelle hit his shots after freshman Quantez Robertson had
missed six free throws in the final minute, which prevented the
Tigers from putting the game away.

Lemelle's free throws gave the Tigers a 66-62 lead. Georgia's
Levi Stukes hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Bulldogs to
the final margin.

Dollard led Auburn with 16 points, while Frank Tolbert had 13.

Georgia (12-8, 2-5) led 30-28 at halftime, but Auburn took the
lead 38-37 with 13:17 and wouldn't fall behind again. Georgia
trailed by as many as 7 in the final minutes as three Bulldogs
fouled out of the game.

The Tigers were able to stretch the lead partly because of the
play of Korvotney Barber, who excited the crowd with three tip ins
within one-minute midway through the second half. Barber scored 9
points before fouling out.

"He did a good job of covering the board today," Lebo said of
Barber. "He did have an advantage because they were smaller. He
worked through and got some big tips."

Two of Barber's tip ins came after he rebounded missed Auburn
free throws.

"When we were shooting free throws, I was getting off the line
quicker than them, so I got in there every time and made the
tips," Barber said.

Georgia's Sundiata Gaines was the game's leading scorer with 18
points, while Stukes had 16 and Mike Mercer 12.

Georgia Coach Dennis Felton blamed the loss on Auburn's ability
to rebound and get second shots.

"It was a really slow game. If it weren't for all of the second
shots that Auburn had, it wouldn't have ended the way it did,"
Felton said.

Auburn jumped off to a fast start, taking a 12-2 lead in the
first five minutes. Dollard had two 3-pointers in that opening run.

Georgia did not score its first field goal until the 13:54 mark
when Stukes hit a 3-pointer and ignited a 21-10 Georgia run over
the next 10 minutes as the Bulldogs took a 23-22 lead at 5:41 in
the half.

Auburn lost the lead as the Tigers got careless with the ball,
committing 13 first half turnovers and a season-high 24 for the
game.