Tigers Look For 5th Win With Road Test

Auburn and Seton Hall will meet for the first time in hoops as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee said he is eagerly awaiting his team's first road game of the season as his Tigers head to New Jersey to take on Seton Hall as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Tipoff time for the game is 8 p.m. CST on Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark as the Tigers and Pirates play for the first time in men's basketball.

"You are talking about two of the best basketball leagues in the country," Barbee said of the competition matching 12 SEC teams vs. 12 teams from the Big East.

"Now that they have moved from neutral sites to home courts, it will make it better for the college basketball fan and the college basketball environment," he said. "We are looking forward to going on the road and playing at Seton Hall."

Auburn takes a 4-0 record into the contest while Seton Hall is 5-1. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Herb Pope, a 6-8, 232 senior forward who transferred to Seton Hall from New Mexico State, leads the Pirates with averages of 20.5 points and 11.7 rebounds. Fuquan Edwin, a 6-6 205 sophomore forward, is averaging 14.8 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Jordan Theodore, a 6-0 174 senior guard, is averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

"Seton Hall is a good team and they are playing well," Barbee said. "They have veteran players. They have a point guard in Theodore who runs the show and makes big plays for them.

"They have interior presence with Pope, who is a difficult matchup and one of the best players in the country. He is a big, strong power forward who can play inside, outside and hit the three. He dominates the interior rebounding the ball offensively and defensively.

"They execute their stuff very, very well," Barbee added. "We are going to have to go on the road and play with a lot of confidence and play with a lot of poise. We are a veteran team so I expect us to."

The Pirates come into the game after a six-day layoff. Their last outing was a 64-54 victory over St. Peters. Other victories have come vs. St. Francis (New York) 75-71, VCU 69-54, Saint Joseph's 78-70, Yale 73-62 and St. Peter's 63-54. Seton Hall lost 80-73 to Northwestern in the finals of the Charleston Classic.

Auburn features five players scoring in double figures led by junior guard Frankie Sullivan, who is averaging 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Varez Ward, who sat out last season as a transfer, drives to the hoop.

Sophomore point guard Varez Ward is averaging 12.0 points, 5.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds.

Senior forward Kenny Gabriel is averaging 11.5 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game.

Auburn's fourth starter in double figures, 6-10 junior center Rob Chubb, is averaging 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Rob Chubb got off to a good start this season, but struggled on Monday night.

Allen Payne, a 6-6 starting sophomore forward, is the team's second-leading rebounder with 5.8 per game and is scoring 6.8 points per contest.

Auburn's top scorer off the bench, 6-2 sophomore guard Chris Denson, is averaging 11.3 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

The Tigers are shooting 48.3 percent from the field through four games with averages of 41.4 percent on threes and 58.3 percent at the foul line.

Seton Hall is hitting 45.2 percent of its shots, 29.5 percent on threes and 69.1 percent at the foul line.

Following his team's 72-59 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night Barbee was critical of the defensive performance. The Tigers are allowing opponents to hit 34.6 percent of their field goals and 28.6 percent of their threes. Seton Hall's defense is allowing opponents to shoot 43.2 percent overall and 29.5 percent on threes.

On Thursday the SEC and Big East split the four games on the opening night of the SEC/Big East Challenge with South Carolina losing at home to Providence and another SEC team falling at home as Alabama lost to Georgetown. Kentucky got a win for the SEC at home vs. St. John's and Ole Miss was an SEC road winner at DePaul.

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