Barbee's Tigers Heading to Oxford

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers will try to earn their third Southeastern Conference victory in a road test at the Tad Pad.

Auburn, Ala.--With his Tigers playing their best basketball of the season Coach Tony Barbee takes his team on the road for a Wednesday night game at Ole Miss, the only team in the SEC West Auburn has yet to play this season.

Tipoff is set for shortly after 7 p.m. CST at the Tad Smith Coliseum where the Tigers will face an Ole Miss team that is 16-9 overall and 4-6 in the SEC.

Auburn is 9-15 overall and 2-8 in the league after rallying from 19 points down on Saturday night to defeat visiting Mississippi State 65-62. Ole Miss had its three-game winning steak ended on Saturday with a 74-64 loss at Alabama.

The Rebels are led by one of the top guards in the conference, 5-10 senior Chris Warren. He is second in the SEC in scoring at 18.6 points per game and is dishing out 3.7 assists per contest.

Coach Andy Kennedy starts a lineup featuring three guards. Zach Graham, a 6-6, 210 senior, is one of those guards and is the team's second leading scoring at 14.2 points per contest.

The other starters include 6-4 sophomore guard Nick Williams (7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds), 6-10 junior forward Terrance Henry (8.8 points, 6.0 rebounds) and 6-9 sophomore forward Reginald Buckner (7.3 points and 6.5 rebounds).

Ole Miss traditionally plays much better on its homecourt, something that Barbee is well aware of as his team heads to the Tad Pad. "Life on the road in the conference is always difficult," the coach says. "We go to a place in Ole Miss where they have been playing extremely well.

"Obviously, it starts with Chris Warren and his ability to dominate the game from the point guard position and score the ball from long range," Barbee says. "It is more than just Chris. Reginald Buckner can control the paint and with Terrance Henry playing inside it will be a difficult matchup."

Ole Miss has a 35-23 record vs. Auburn in games played in Oxford with a 29-15 edge at the Tad Smith Coliseum.

If Auburn is going to upset the Rebels on Wednesday night the Tigers will likely need another strong performance from sophomore guard Earnest Ross to make it happen. He leads the Tigers in scoring and rebounding with averages of 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest.

Earnest Ross, a 6-5, 215 sophomore, leads the Tigers in double figures scoring games with 17 this season.

"He has improved a lot from the start of the season to where we are right now," Barbee says. "He is understanding what is a good shot, what is a bad shot. He is taking care of the ball and what I want him to be is the best finisher on this team. He is more of a finisher than a play starter. He was struggling with that early on, but now that he understands that I want him to make plays to score and not for other people because he has a high turnover rate.

"Now that he is understanding that better, he is not turning the ball over nearly as much," Barbee adds. "He is turning into that guy we can go to when we need points in a difficult spot. He is not afraid to take or make that difficult shot."

Ross scored 21 points vs. Mississippi State and in the previous game at Georgia set a collegiate career high for points with 30.


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