Auburn Basketball Blog--Exhibition Opener

News and notes from Auburn's basketball exhibition game being played on Wednesday night at the new Auburn Arena are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn is playing the first of two preseason exhibition men's basketball games tonight at the Auburn Arena. West Alabama, a team from the Division II Gulf South Conference, is the opponent.

The Tigers will also play Columbus State University on Nov. 8th in an exhibition before opening the season with a doubleheader on Friday, Nov. 12th. Coach Nell Fortner's Auburn women's team will play Mercer at 5 p.m. in the first regular season game at the new Auburn Arena and the men will tip off at 8 p.m. vs. the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs.

Coach Tony Barbee's projected starting lineup features 6-6 freshman forward Allen Payne, 6-8 junior forward Kenny Gabriel, 6-10 sophomore center Rob Chubb, 5-10 point guard Josh Wallace and 6-5 sophomore guard Earnest Ross.

Ross and Gabriel are the leading returning scorers at 2.8 points per game with guard Frankie Sullivan expected to miss the season after having ACL surgery. Sullivan is the only returning starter on the squad.

Wallace, a walk-on from Washington High in Pensacola, Fla., and Ross, who is from Panther Creek High in Cary, N.C., are Auburn's captains for tonight's game.

Josh Wallace drives to the basket on Wednesday night.

7 p.m. update--One change in the starting lineup features Andre Malone starting ahead of Ross.

7:04 p.m.--Chubb scored the first Auburn points in the new arena. He won the tip and scored on a post-up move on the opening possession.

7:06 p.m.--The first foul on an Auburn player was called on Payne with Auburn up 6-0 early in the game.

7:08--Auburn jumped to an 8-0 lead less than three minutes into the game before the visitors scored.

*At the 17:17 mark Kenny Gabriel had the first Auburn slam dunk in the new arena, a two-handed putback to put Auburn up 10-3.

*The first subs of the season were Ross and juco transfer Adrian Forbes along with Tony Neysmith at the 15:37 mark of the first half with Auburn up 12-5. Neysmith is playing point guard.

*Less than seven minutes into the game little-used walk-on Jake Drum, a 6-5 sophomore from Spain Park, got into the game.

*Forbes took the first charge for Auburn in the new arena.

*Allen Payne hit the first three-pointer for the Tigers at the 12:12 mark in the first half. The left hit his trey from the corner.

*Auburn is up 17-10 with a timeout at the 11:55 mark in the first half.

*Unlike the "Grand Opening" night for the arena that featured practices for the men's and women's team, the arena is not packed with fans. The students are managing to make a lot of noise, but there are a lot of no-shows in the sections sold to season ticket holders.

*Ross made the first free throw at the 11:55 mark hitting both of his shots.

*Freshman Chris Denson entered the game for the first at the 8:08 mark of the first half with Auburn up 22-17.

*West Alabama took its first lead at the 7:07 mark on a steal and fastbreak basket to go up 25-23.

*With a steal in the backcourt by Wallace with seconds left before intermission, Auburn took a 40-31 lead at halftime.

At halftime Auburn has hit 17-42 field goals and 1-9 threes. West Alabama has hit 13-42 field goals and 3-15 threes. Each team has 28 rebounds. Auburn has six assists and just four turnovers. West Alabama has eight assists and six turnovers.

*At the break Wallace leads the Tigers in scoring with eight points. Gabriel had six points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Chubb has six points and six rebounds and Neysmith has five points and three rebounds. * Auburn is 5-10 at the foul line at halftime while West Alabama is 2-4.

*Prized recruit Josh Langford has not played and is on the bench with what is beleived to be an injury.

Big Sophomore Expecting to Take Bigger Role

*Auburn's lead is down 47-46 at the 14:56 mark due to ball-handling issues for the home team.

*Auburn leads 55-52 with 9:41 left in the game.

*Final score, Auburn wins 79-66. Game report to come later tonight.

*Auburn shot 43.9 percent from tthe field to 34.2 for the losers. Gabriel led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points and in rebounds with 16. Malone scored 13 points, Ross finished with 12 and Chubb and Wallace scored 10 apiece. Chubb added eight rebounds.

*Auburn hit 19-29 free throws and out-rebounded the visitors 47-45. West Alabama hit 8-12 free throws and turned the ball over 14 times. Auburn had 14 turnovers, too.

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