— AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Frankie Sullivan scored 24 points and Allen Payne added a career-high 17 as Auburn defeated Florida State 78-72 in the Tigers' nonconference finale Wednesday night.
Auburn (6-7) trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before outscoring the Seminoles (8-5) 21-10 down the back end of the first half to cut the Florida State lead to 36-35 by halftime.
Florida State's Michael Snaer recorded a double-double in the losing effort, scoring 18 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Terry Whisnant added another 16 points for the Seminoles.
Sullivan scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half, keeping the Tigers alive as they battled back from the early deficit. Payne scored nine points in the second half for Auburn as the Tigers overtook the lead.
"I think I did my part in just carrying us and keeping us in the game in the first half," Sullivan said. "That's what I do. I don't try to score just to be scoring and get my points up. I was hot in the first half, and the team started going in the second half. I tried not to force anything, and just let them play.
"I think our bench did exceptionally well. Without our bench, I don't think we would've won this game."
The Auburn victory avenged an 85-56 loss to Florida State in Tallahassee last season.
After charging back to cut the lead to one at halftime, Auburn overtook the lead nearly 2 minutes into the second half when a Rob Chubb lay-in put Auburn up 42-40, giving the Tigers' their first lead since Auburn was up 8-7 nearly 5 minutes into the game.
"I just said if we'll keep being patient and keep attacking and working for the best shot, they'll eventually go down," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "It's one thing I've been preaching to these guys, whether you run the best offense or not or you play the greatest defense, it's about fighting. It translates from basketball to life.
"No matter what's happening, they're going to be adversity hit."
Chubb finished with eight points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers. Noel Johnson scored all nine of his points in the second half as Auburn pulled away.
Florida State's Aaron Thomas cut the Auburn lead to seven with 2:58 to play in the game, but the Tigers went 12 of 20 from the free-throw line in the last 2:01 of the game to seal the win.
The Seminoles shot 48.3 percent from the field (28 of 58), outshooting the Tigers, who shot 34.9 percent (22 of 63), but Florida State finished with 11 more turnovers and shot 26 fewer free throws, which proved to be the difference.