Tigers Face Road Test in Fayetteville

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers are on the road this week for SEC games at Arkansas and South Carolina.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers are still looking for their first SEC basketball victory as they face a pair of road tests this week.

First on the schedule is an 8 p.m. CST game on Tuesday evening vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas is a team that is trying to bounce back from a 75-43 road loss to Florida.

Auburn is coming off of back-to-back home losses falling 45-40 to Florida and 68-58 to Alabama in a pair of defensive struggles.

"We are sitting at 0-5 in the conference and you want to try to scratch into the win column, and it is a difficult task when your two games this week are on the road at two difficult places to play in this conference at Arkansas and at South Carolina," Barbee says.

"Arkansas is playing very, very well," the coach adds. That place is always a difficult place to play. You go in and look at the personnel that Arkansas has with obviously (Rotnei) Clarke being such a threat. You couple that with (Marshawn) Powell and his presence and being able to create mismatches because he can play inside and out at his size. It is going to be a difficult game."

Clarke, 6-0 junior, is averaging 12.3 points per game and Powell, a 6-7, 220 forward, is scoring 10.3 points per contest for the Razorbacks, who are 12-6 overall and 2-3 in the SEC.

Rotnei Clarke drives to the basket for the Razorbacks.

Delvon Johnson, a 6-9, 220 senior, is scoring 10.8 points and leads the team in rebounding at 7.9 per game.

"Defensively, we are going to have to guard like we have the last couple of games against Alabama and against Florida, and then we go over to South Carolina to complete the week," Barbee says.

Before and during the season, Barbee has consistently said that his team will struggle to score and the numbers show that is the case. The Tigers are averaging just 62.5 points per game and are making only 39.5 percent of their field goals.

The strength for the Tigers, who are 7-12 overall, has been their defense which is allowing 64.9 points per contest. Barbee says he likes the effort he has been seeing from his team and says that it is something he demands every day.

"That's what we do in practice," he says. "The thing that we are trying to do as a staff is stay positive and upbeat. When you do that, the kids sense that. If you show frustration or any sense that you are letting down in terms of your intensity as a coach or a staff, then the players feel that as well. I've been pleased with the effort, especially over the last two games against Alabama and Florida.

"Defensively, because of how limited we are offensively, we have to be very good," Barbee says. "We have been very good the last two games, but at the end of the day this isn't baseball. You are not going to pitch many shutouts in college basketball, and at the end of the day you have to score the ball, and the team with the most points wins. We struggle to score, and it is what it is."

Tuesday's game vs. the Razorbacks will be televised by ESPNU and on Saturday the Tigers will play at 12:30 p.m. CST at South Carolina in a game televised by the SEC Network.

Earnest Ross leads the Tigers in scoring at 12.7 points per game and in rebound with 7.0. No only Auburn player is scoring in double figures, but Kenny Gabriel is close at 9.9 points per game and the junior forward is the second leading rebounder as well with 6.1 per outing.


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