Barbee's Tigers Face Visiting Gators

The Auburn men's basketball team is at home on Thursday night while the women's squad looks for another win on a road trip to Starkville.

Auburn, Ala.--Still looking for its first conference win for Coach Tony Barbee, the Auburn men's basketball team will take on the visiting Florida Gators on Thursday evening at the Auburn Arena.

Coach Billy Donovan has what looks to be one of the top teams in the SEC this season. His Gators are 13-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. Auburn is 7-10 overall and 0-3 in conference play.

"Florida is a very talented and very experienced team," Barbee says. "They start three seniors for a very talented team with great inside players in Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus. They are very talented inside-outside players and Chandler Parsons is the other exceptional senior.

"Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are a very good backcourt," Barbee says. "They have five guys averaging in double figures in conference play which is always tough to defend when you have five guys who can score at any given time."

Tipoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CST at the Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Walker leads the Gators in scoring with an average of 14.5 points per game. The 5-8 junior is averaging 3.2 assists per contest. Auburn sophomore Josh Wallace, who is similar in size, will likely have the defensive assignment on Walker.

Parsons, a 6-9, 218 senior, leads Florida in rebounds with 6.5 per game to go with 10.6 points per contest. Macklin, a 6-10, 240 center, is averaging 6.4 rebounds and 10.9 points. Boynton, a 6-2 guard, is scoring 12.6 points per game. Tyus is averaging 9.4 points per contest.

Auburn has just one player scoring in double figures with an average of 12.4 points per game. The sophomore guard is also his team's top rebounder with 6.9 per contest. Junior Kenny Gabriel is the second leading scorer at 9.8 points per contest and is second in rebounding with 6.2 per game.

Kenny Gabriel

The Gators will be trying to rebound from a 72-69 loss to South Carolina that snapped a five-game winning streak. Auburn fell 85-66 at Mississippi State in its last outing.

Florida leads the SEC in field goal percentage and in league play the Gators have been very effective from three-point range hitting 22-47 attempts for 46.8.

Auburn will play without junior guard Frankie Sullivan, who will sit out the rest of the year and rest his injured knee with the expectation of receiving a medical hardship redshirt and returning in 2011-2012 with two years of eligibility remaining.

Fans attending the game on Thursday night will receive an Auburn basketball T-shirt. The Tigers will have a quick-turnaround with Alabama visiting the Auburn Arena for a Saturday game, which is a sellout.

Coach Nell Fortner's Tigers are 4-1 in league play heading into their 7 p.m. game at Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Tigers, who are 11-7 overall, have been playing their best basketball after getting off to a slow start.

Mississippi State is 8-8 overall and 0-4 in the league.

It's another road game in the SEC, which is tough, it's tough to play," Fortner says. "I know Mississippi State is going to be hungry. They have played hard in their games, and I know they're looking for a win. They are going to play hard and tough at home, so we have to be ready for them."

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