Auburn vs. Vanderbilt preview: Tigers try to stop skid

USA TODAY Sports

Auburn meets Vanderbilt on that raised floor they call Memorial Gym on Wednesday evening.

Auburn is currently 2-2 in conference play (8-9 overall), a roaring start with wins against LSU and South Carolina before falling to Arkansas on the road and to Kentucky at home. Vandy is 1-3 in the league after a loss to Kentucky (that included a gut searing shot from Nerlens Noel that was launched after the shot clock expired), a loss to Arkansas in which the 'Dores only scored 33 points, an overtime loss to Ole Miss and a win against South Carolina. The Commodores are 7-9 overall and are hurting for a win just as bad as the Tigers are.

Wins for the Tigers have been hard to come by at Memorial. Vandy holds a 47-16 series edge in Nashville, and head coach Kevin Stallings is 11-5 against the Tigers, including six straight wins. Last season, Vandy opened conference play with a home game against Auburn. It rained threes that afternoon, and Vandy emerged with a 65-35 win.

The projected lineup for Auburn includes junior forward Allen Payne (6'6, 215), senior center Rob Chubb (6'10, 250), freshman guard Shaquille Johnson (6'5, 210), senior guard Josh Wallace (5'10, 170) and senior guard Frankie Sullivan (6'1, 206). Freshman guard Brian Greene Jr. (6'3, 205), junior Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (7'0, 230) and senior forward Noel Johnson (6'6, 205) are regulars in the rotation off the bench. Junior guard Chris Denson (6'2, 175) and freshman guard Jordan Price (6'5, 225) made early returns from stress fracture injuries in the game against Kentucky and should be considered available against Vanderbilt.

Probably starters for Vanderbilt are junior forward Rod Odom (6'9, 212), freshman forward Sheldon Jeter (6'7, 215), sophomore center Shelby Moats (6'8, 225), sophomore guard Kedren Johnson (6'4, 215) and sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker (6'3, 190). Expect to see junior guard Kyle Fuller (6'1, 180) and freshman guard Kevin Bright (6'5, 210) come in off the bench.

Johnson is the Commodores the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game and steals with 24. Jeter is making 49.2 percent of his attempts from the field and 40.0 percent on his attempts from behind the arc. In league play, Vanderbilt is extremely reliant on the three, with almost fifty percent of their shots coming from the perimeter (98 of 205). In the last two games, Vandy has made 43.3 percent of its threes. If Vandy gets hot, especially Bright, the Tigers could be in major trouble. However, if the Tigers can shut down the outside shots, they may have a chance on the inside with good play from Chubb and Dixon-Tatum.

Vandy is averaging only 59.0 points points per game, where as Auburn is scoring 68.9 points per contest. With similar shooting percentages -- field goal (VU 40.6, AU 42.9), three-point (VU 35.0, AU 34.4) and free throw (VU 57.2, AU 66.9) -- we may be in for a sloppy game that (as it always seems to be in Auburn's case) will be come down to fouling: Who can stay out of foul trouble, and who can make free throws?

Perhaps the bigger concern for this game is that Auburn has shown the tendency to play to the level of its opponent. Remember the poor performances against Boston College, Depaul, Rhode Island and, good grief, Winthrop? If you recall the games against better competition, Illinois and FSU, the Tigers were almost a completely different team. Prepare yourself, Auburn fans. It might get ugly.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be aired on ESPN3 and audio broadcast is available on the Auburn IMG Network / XM199.

Tony Barbee on Vanderbilt

"Vanderbilt is a good team, but they are a team like us in transition with a lot of young players. They have been playing well as of late. They have been shooting the ball well as of late, and there is no secret that we have to guard that 3-point line against that team. They all shoot it well from one through five. It's going to be a difficult matchup, especially on the road at Vandy where they play well."

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