AUBURN---Earnest Ross recorded his first career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds but Auburn fell 69-55 to Jacksonville at Auburn Arena on Saturday.
Leading 59-54 with 3:08 to play, Jacksonville (4-1) ended the game on a
9-1 run as the Tigers missed four shots and had three turnovers in the span.
"You might as well put that every column that you write," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee on Auburn's poor shooting. "I've said that from day one. We're going to be an offensively challenged team. It is what it is. We have to, as we get guys coming along and playing at a higher level, Earnest (Ross) for example, is playing at a high level, offensively. I think (Rob) Chubb's confidence is starting to grow."
Auburn (1-4) opened the game with a 9-3 lead but that was short-lived as the Dolphins scored seven straight points. The game was tied at 12 when Jacksonville scored 12 straight points in only 1:33 to double-up Auburn 24-12 with 8:11 left in the first half.
The Tigers kept coming back, as they did many times during the game, but could never get over the hump. Auburn closed to within 31-29 before Jacksonville went into the locker room ahead 33-29.
In the second half, the Dolphins pushed their lead to 43-34, but the Tigers came within 50-46 with 10 minutes to play. Jacksonville increased its lead again to 57-46 only to have Auburn trail 59-54.
"This is not a step backwards," said Ross. "I would call it a learning process. We practiced real hard this weekend. We came prepared.
They outplayed us, and we did not have the heart to finish off the game and come out with the win."
Rob Chubb added 10 points and 7 rebounds for Auburn.
Auburn shot only 37.3 percent from the field and 3-of-13 (.231) from 3-point range and 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the foul line. The Tigers, who forced 19 Dolphin turnovers, also committed 22 turnovers as Jacksonville outscored Auburn 33-15 on points off turnovers.
Jacksonville shot 46.6 percent from the floor, 6-of-18 from behind the arc and 9-of-19 (.474) from the free throw line. Keith McDougald led four Dolphins who scored in double figures with 15 points. Travis Cohn added 13 points and Russell Powell and Ayron Hardy 11 apiece.
Auburn returns to action as it plays host to Div. II Georgia Southwestern on Tuesday at 7 pm Central in Auburn Arena followed by Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday at 2 pm Central.