It's getting to be desperation time for the Auburn Tigers, who are coming off six consecutive defeats. If Tony Barbee's team wants to turn its season around, Wednesday night would be a good time to start. The Tigers host Alabama at Auburn Arena.
Auburn added yet another loss to its resume when the Tigers fell to Missouri last Saturday. The game was never really within reach, as told by the final 91-77 score. Once again, Auburn's perimeter defense was non existent, and when the defense stretched in an attempt to cover Missouri's shooters, the black-and-gold Tigers were able to feed the ball inside with ease. "You can be a really good team when nobody is guarding you," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee when addressing the media after the game, and he was right.
Missouri's Keion Bell scored a game-high 24 points, and four other Tigers scored in double figures. Auburn once again had trouble getting baskets, and the interior game was nonexistent. One of the only bright spots for Auburn was making a season high 32 free throws on 36 attempts after having atrocious performances from the line in the previous two games. Frankie Sullivan was the top scorer for Auburn with 12 points, followed by Chris Denson and Rob Chubb with 10 points each.
Auburn looks to end its six-game skid against a Crimson Tide team that beat Vanderbilt Saturday in Memorial Coliseum, 58-54, ending a 11-game losing streak in Nashville. The Tide have won six out of their last seven games, with their only loss coming at Tennessee. Trevor Releford leads Alabama in scoring with 15.3 points per game, followed by Trevor Lacy at 12.4. Alabama is second in the SEC in scoring defense, only allowing 58.3 points per contest. Auburn is 0-2 against the Crimson Tide in the new Auburn Arena, head coach Tony Barbee is winless agianst his biggest rival, compiling an 0-4 record against Anthony Grant's team.
The projected starters for Alabama are junior guard Trevor Releford (6'0, 195), sophomore guard Trevor Lacey (6'3, 215), sophomore guard Levi Randolph (6'5, 205), sophomore guard Rodney Cooper (6'6, 215) and center Moussa Gueye (7'0, 255). Guards Nick Jacobs (6'8, 265) and Andrew Steele (6'4, 225) are expected to play off the bench.
The Auburn projected starters are senior center Rob Chubb (6'10, 250), senior guard Frankie Sullivan (6'1, 206), junior guard Chris Denson (6'2, 175), junior guard Allen Payne (6'6, 215), and freshman Shaquille Johnson (6'5, 210). Bench players for the Tigers will be senior guard Josh Wallace (5'10, 170), senior forward Noel Johnson (6'6, 205), junior center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (7'0, 230), freshman guard Jordan Price (6'5, 225), freshman guard Brian Greene Jr. (6'3, 205), and freshman forward Jordon Granger (6'9, 215).
Auburn has a lot of work to do on both ends of the court. The Tigers must start shooting better if they want to be competitive in this league, and they have to play better defense on the perimeter (something that has been lacking each an every week) and find ways to shut down the lane without getting into foul trouble. Barbee called out his seniors this week, noting "embarrassing" play and shaking things up with 6 a.m. practices. "Everything, not very good. And that's on me. When I watch the tape, I told the guys I'm embarrassed to say I coach this team, and the majority of it is on me. My fault," Barbee told the media at his weekly press conference.
He also called out his seniors, saying "It was a little bit of fool's gold, because I thought our leadership was strong enough, having been through it. I was fooled into thinking that this senior group, this veteran group had got it. They hadn't. They slipped right back into their old habits."
Auburn and Alabama are set to tip off at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and ESPN3, and audio broadcast will be available on the Auburn IMG Network / XM 198.