Tigers Looking for Offense on SEC Road Trip

The Auburn men's basketball team looks to get its first SEC road win when they travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--Frankie Sullivan knows it will take more than a great defensive effort if the Tigers are to get their first SEC road win of the year when they travel to Starkville Saturday to take on 19th-ranked Mississippi State.

"It would mean a great deal for us to go to Mississippi State and steal a road win," said the junior guard, who is averaging 11.9 points per contest. "I don't know what's wrong with us on the road about scoring. I know we're not a great scoring team, but scoring 42 points is not going to get it to win on the road."

Barbee said the team must find a way to play a complete game, especially against a team as sound as Mississippi State.

"It can't just be a defensive effort and then have turnovers and shoot a low percentage," he noted. "You can't win that way.

"You've got to take care of the basketball on the road," added Barbee. "You've got to defend, obviously, like the way we've been defending and then offensively, we've got to reward ourselves on the offensive end of the floor."

Averaging just 49 points in SEC road games, the Tigers are looking for ways to get more production on offense.

"You can go see right now most of the guys in the gym trying to critique their shot or get their shot right or their go-to moves, trying to critique those," said Sullivan. "I think that's been the biggest problem. We know we can do it; we're just not showing it right now. I think that once we show it, then Coach (Barbee) will be happy."

The Tigers will also have their hands full on the glass as the Bulldogs are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league. Bulldogs' forward Arnett Moultrie, who played for two seasons at UTEP under Barbee before transferring to Mississippi State, leads the SEC in rebounding with 11.3 boards per game.

"Their bigs all do a good job of offensive rebounding, which is a concern because when we've played teams like that we've struggled," said Barbee. "We don't have a great defensive rebounding presence in the middle, so we're going to have to do a good job of what I call gang rebounding where you all have to block out when the shot goes up, be accountable for our man, and then we all have to go after ball wherever it is, can't wait for it just to come to our area."

Sullivan said that rebounding is all about playing with more heart.

"You have to want to go rebound it," he said. "Even the smaller guys can get a rebound, so it's all about heart and team rebounding, so I think that's what we're going to work on."

In addition to his rebounding skills, Moultrie also brings it on the offensive end of the floor, where he leads the Bulldogs in scoring with a 16.8 points per game average.

Another player to keep an eye on is senior guard Dee Bost, who is averaging 15.9 points per game. In Auburn's 65-62 comeback win over the Mississippi State last year, Bost led the Bulldogs with 22 points and made four of his eight attempts from beyond the arc.

Mississippi State is the third team Auburn will face that has had a week off before playing the Tigers. Barbee hopes the results will be the same.

"We're 2-0 in those weeks," he said. "We'll see if we can make it 3-0."

Auburn holds a 71-64 overall series lead against Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs hold a 39-25 edge in Starkville.

The game is set to tip off at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday and will be televised on the SEC Network.


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