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Exorcising the Worst Loss of the Barbee Era

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday at 7:30 central, the Auburn Tigers host Northwestern State, the pride of the Northwestern portion of some unidentified state.  Northwestern State, appropriately enough, is known as the Demons, and the Tigers need a win here to exorcise the spirit of one of the worst losses of the Tony Barbee era.

On November 15, 2013, Auburn hosted the Demons.  It was a one point game with six to play in the first half when Auburn caught fire.  The Auburn lead was nine at the half and stretched to fourteen in early second half action.  The Demons then score 58 points in the last fifteen minutes of the game to beat Auburn by nineteen, 111-92.  Jalan West led the Demons with 30 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists.  As a team, the Demons were 14-27 from behind the arc.  KT Harrell and Chris Denson combined for 50 points in the loss.

If you've been an Auburn basketball fan long enough, you've seen Auburn lose to directional schools lots of times but the way that game turned . . . . those boys have a whippin' coming and now we have the Tigers to deliver it.

Northwestern State suffered a major blow in their season opener when Jalan West tore up his knee.  West poured in 25 against Ole Miss before suffering the injury. West was a rare four year star in college basketball and I hope he gets a chance to play somewhere on the next level.

Without West, Northwestern State has struggled this year, posting a 1-4 record.  The Demons picked up their first win Wednesday night against lowly Louisiana College.  Northwestern State lost by 14 to Ole Miss, 19 to Arizona, and 14 to Louisiana Monroe.  They also lost a shootout 99-97 to LSU-Alexandria. They're scoring 73 points per game and giving up 82.  They're getting outrebounded by 7 boards per game.

That leaves the Demons with one legitimate offensive threat, Zeek Woodley.  Woodley has averaged nearly 23 points per game along with 6 rebounds.  He shoots 41% from outside the arc.  Auburn needs to stay on Woodley to be comfortable Friday.

PROJECTED STARTERS FOR NORTHWESTERN STATE

F -Ishmael Lane 6'8" 250; Northwestern State likes to run a four guard offense leaving only the freshman Lane down low.  Lane averages almost 13 points but is yet to establish himself as a rebounding force or enforcer in the paint.

F - Matt Killian 6'5" 180; Killian took over starting duties Wednesday for injured swingman Tra'von Joseph, who had knee surgery this week.  The senior has been spotty offensively, averaging just over two points per game.

G - Devonte Hall 6'1 180; Devonte took over point duties for the injured Jalan West.  He averages almost five assists a game but can't replace West's scoring.

G - Malik Metoyer 6'7" 190; Metoyer averages about 3 points per game.

G - Zeek Woodley 6'2" 209; Zeek is big and strong and is a very clever basketball player.  Also, the man can jump like New Williams.

Look for Sabri Thompson to provide a spark for the Demons from the bench.  Last game, he played 23 minutes and scored 15 points.

PROJECTED STARTERS FOR AUBURN

F - #5 Cinmeon Bowers 6'7" 235 pounds. 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds; I've been to two Auburn games and have two observations on Cim.  One, we should change his nickname to Slim Bowers.  Cim didn't have much body fat on his 250 pound frame last year but he's definitely slimmed down.  Two, last year we didn't have many weapons so it was charming when Cim tried to force the action.  This year, we have other weapons and need Cim to be less selfish on offense and to stop trying to make things happen that just aren't there.

F - #12 Tyler Harris 6'10" 228 pounds. 15.3 points 8 rebounds; Tyler continues to be Mr. Consistent for the Tigers.  He makes highlight plays when the opportunity is there, he makes regular plays when they aren't.  Great addition.

G - #1 Kareem Canty 6'1" 185 pounds. 19.3 points, 5.3 assists; Kareem is a true point guard and the offense runs through him.  He's a year wiser and more efficient than he was at Marshall.  He takes care of the ball and is a great shooter.

G #4 T.J. Dunans 6'5" 174 pounds. 15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3 assists T.J. could become Auburn's first true superstar since Marquis Daniels left in 2003.  T.J. is tall, athletic, and relentless.  He gets after it on both sides of the court and, as a result, has ridiculous stat lines.  Sonny Smith said during the last game that T.J. needs to be more selfish with the ball and he is absolutely right.

G #23 TJ Lang 6'7" 200 pounds. 6.7 points, 2.3 rebounds TJ is a solid contributor who is a real pest on defense and a good spot shooter.  He'll have his work cut out for him this week against Zeek Woodley.

Horace Spencer is Auburn's best sixth man in a long time but needs to learn to play with a touch more discipline.  Also be on the lookout for Bryce Brown and New Williams.  Bryce had 11 points in 6 minutes in his first real action of the season against Georgia Southern.  I'd like to see him get more involved.  New Williams took time off from his busy modeling career this week and practiced for the first time since injuring his knee in the preseason.  When he gets the ball in his hands, look out.

Northwestern State has struggled without West.  If he were healthy, this could be a dangerous game.  Without him, I'll take the Tigers by 25, 93-68.

How to Watch, Stream, Listen Live

Time: 7:30 CST

TV: SEC Network

Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio:Auburn IMG Radio Network