On Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Auburn Arena, Gabriel and his teammates will take on the University of South Florida Bulls. It is the second half of a doubleheader with the Auburn women also playing USF. That game will tip off at 6 p.m. CST.
Auburn will be trying to rebound, in more ways than one, after a miserable performance vs. Seton Hall in the SEC-Big East Challenge on Dec. 1st. Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was agitated by his team's performance that night, particularly defensively and with the rebounding as the Tigers fell 81-59.
"We started to realize what Coach has been talking about, about playing tough and playing hard every possession, so we are just ready to get after other people," said Gabriel, who noted the Tigers are looking forward to a game after 12 days since playing Seton Hall.
Auburn was out-rebounded 40-26 by Seton Hall. "Coach got on us good about that," Gabriel said. "We finally watched film on it and that is what he has been harping on in practice the last couple of days about just rebounding and being tough. I think we picked up on it and know how we have to play to win games, and that is with rebounding. We are going to try to out-rebound teams by 10 or 12 per game."
Last season, playing in Tampa, the Tigers lost to South Florida by a 61-49 score. USF has a 6-4 record this season after defeating Florida A&?83-59 on Sunday.
Commenting on the Bulls, Barbee said, "South Florida is very talented. They bring back some guys who played last year, and their best player is Gilchrist (6-10, 235 Augustus Gilchrist). He is a mismatch problem for a lot of bigs because he can face up and shoot the three. He can put it on the floor, and he can also post you. He causes a lot of mismatches."
Kenny Gabriel launches as shot early in his senior season.
Asked what the other keys to success vs. USF will be in addition to rebounding, Gabriel said, "Taking good shots and using the clock, and using our speed and quickness to our advantage. If we get to playing how we practice, which is fast, and executing all of our plays we have a good chance of winning every single game we play."
For Wednesday's game, Noel Johnson, a 6-7 guard who transferred from Clemson in January, will be eligible to play for the Tigers. However, a wrist injury has limited what he has been able to do in practice this week and Barbee said that Johnson isn't quite ready for game action.
Another injured Tiger, freshman guard Cedrick McAfee, is still not cleared yet as he recovers from a stress fracture in his foot. However, the coach said that McAfee is making good progress and could see game action soon.