AUBURN, Ala. - Varez Ward scored 17 points and led a productive night at the free-throw line for Auburn in a 59-51 win over Georgia on Wednesday night.
Ward hit all 12 of his free throw attempts as Auburn (13-9, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) shot 80.6 percent (25 of 31) from the line.
Ward, who sat out most of the last two years due to leg injuries, has averaged 14.5 points over the last two games after scoring just 4.5 a game over the previous eight.
"This is the best I've felt all year, going into this game," Ward said. "Now I'm able to show the real game and attack the basket when my shot's not falling."
Kenny Gabriel added 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers, who snapped a two-game skid.
Gerald Robinson led Georgia (10-11, 1-6) with 16 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late. Dustin Ware scored 10 points and Donte' Williams added nine points and nine rebounds.
Georgia also had a good night from the line, shooting 19 of 23 (82.6 percent), as both teams made more free throws than field goals.
Auburn hit 16 of 48 (33.3 percent) from the field, and held the Bulldogs to just 25 percent-shooting (13 of 52).
"We get so frustrated, and we let our frustration affect our play offensively," Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said. "We just felt like if we continued to play the game like we know how, that we had a chance to win it. We put ourselves in a position to win it with a one-possession game.
"Every time we did that, we did something to mess that up."
Auburn went into the half with an 11-point lead and led by two or three possessions most of the second half until Robinson hit a layup in transition to bring the Bulldogs within 51-49 with 51.8 seconds left, the closest they'd been since the 7:56 mark of the first half.
After the teams traded a pair of free throws, Allen Payne hit two more free throws to push Auburn's lead to 56-51 with 25.8 seconds left, and Georgia got two shots near the rim on its next possession but couldn't convert.
Gabriel hit three free throws in the final 13.1 seconds to ice the win.
A matchup of the two lowest-scoring teams in SEC play certainly lived down to its billing early.
Auburn missed its first 12 field goals, finally breaking the drought on a Sullivan 3-pointer with 10:45 left in the first half.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Georgia made only three of its first 12 shots, and Sullivan's 3 closed the Bulldogs' lead to 9-7.
It also started a 20-1 Tigers run, ending on a Rob Chubb hook shot in the lane to build Auburn's lead to 22-10 with 3:19 to go.
"It goes back to our defense. We continued to guard," Tigers coach Tony Barbee said. "We were able to break the ice on the rim. We were able to get going. When we get the stops on defense and play fast in transition like that, it will lead to easy buckets.
"And boy, so we need to find a way to get some easy buckets."
Auburn, which started the game down 7-0, ended the first half on a 26-8 run to take a 26-15 lead into the break.
Georgia, after hitting its first two shots, finished the half at 17.4 percent (4 of 23), including a stretch without a field goal that covered 9:34, leading to its lowest first-half scoring output of the year and the fewest first-half points Auburn has given up this season.
The Tigers hit 10 of 16 shots (62.5 percent) after their frigid start, with Ward (seven points) and Gabriel (six points) leading the way.