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Auburn 68, Wake Forest 62

  |   March 23, 2003 at 10:22 PM
TAMPA, Fla., March 23 (UPI) -- Marquis Daniels scored seven of his 18 points in the final two minutes Sunday to help 10 Auburn finish off a 68-62 upset of No. 2 Wake Forest in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region.

Auburn earned its first trip to the regional semifinals since 1999 and will meet No. 3 Syracuse on Friday in Albany, N.Y..

Daniels, who sparked an overtime rally for the Tigers in their win against St. Joseph's in the first round, gave Auburn (22-11) a 59-54 lead on a follow shot with 1:51 left. The basket snapped a 2:12 stretch during which neither team scored.

"He made some big plays and scored some big points," Auburn guard Derrick Bird said.

Auburn took its first lead at 51-49 on a three-pointer by Lewis Monroe with 7:44 left. The Tigers did not trail again as Wake Forest (25-6) hit only one basket during a run of nearly 11 minutes late in the second half.

"We missed shots and threw the ball away," Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser said. "We were not poised down the stretch. It was there to be won, but we failed to execute."

After Josh Howard made a shot in the paint with 11:16 left to put Wake Forest up 48-46, the Demon Deacons were outscored, 13-3, over the next 7:13 and never recovered.

"We didn't capitalize on our offensive possessions," Howard said. "We basically turned the ball over a lot and that's what happened."

Freshman Justin Gray's three-pointer with 4:03 left brought the Demon Deacons within 57-54. But Daniels scored seven of the game's next nine points to help put away the game as the Tigers defeated the Demon Deacons for the first time since 1968.

Gray led the Demon Deacons with a season-high 26 points, 15 in the first half. Howard, the All-America forward, had 14 points and seven rebounds in his final collegiate game.

"It hurts," Howard said. "I had my opportunities and didn't capitalize. My teammates will always be my family."

"I have a lot of respect for (Oklahoma State's) Eddie Sutton," Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis said. "But I would rather be playing Oklahoma State than Syracuse in Albany."

The Tigers, who shot 35 percent on three-pointers this season, won despite shooting just 21 percent, including one of nine in the second half. Monroe shot two of five from beyond the arc on his way to scoring 12 points.

Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson added 11 points apiece for Auburn, which shot 43 percent from the field. Killingsworth led the Tigers with eight rebounds.

Wake Forest shot only 27 percent from the field in the second half and 37 percent for the game.

Taron Downey, who got the Demon Deacons within 66-62 with 13 seconds left before a pair of free throws by Monroe finished the scoring, had nine points.

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