Tigers Look for Payback Against the Bulldogs

The Auburn men's basketball team looks to end a three-game skid Saturday as it plays host to Mississippi State in the second meeting between the two teams this season.

Auburn, Ala.-- After a much-needed midweek bye, the Auburn men's basketball team will try to end a three-game losing streak and get some payback when it faces No. 23 Mississippi State on Saturday at the Auburn Arena in the second matchup between the two teams in as many weeks.

The Tigers' losing streak began two weeks ago with a 91-88 road loss to the Bulldogs that came down to the buzzer. The 88 points scored by Auburn was the highest offensive output by head coach Tony Barbee's team this season.

The offense reverted back to its struggling ways, however, managing just 50 and 54 points against Alabama and Ole Miss, respectively, the the past two games.

After beginning the season with a 10-3 record, Auburn has dropped nine of its last 12 games, leaving the Tigers 13-12 overall and 3-8 in conference. Mississippi State enters the game 19-7 overall and 6-5 in conference.

"Every team this time of the year is banged up physically, and every team is a little more down mentally," Barbee said. "For us, the bye week comes at a very good time for us to re-charge our batteries physically and mentally."

The Tigers will again look for a way to contain the Bulldogs' Arnett Moultrie, who played two seasons under Tony Barbee at UTEP before transferring to Mississippi State. The junior forward scored 21 points and brought down seven rebounds in the first matchup between the Tigers and Bulldogs in Starkville.

Moultrie leads the Bulldogs in scoring, averaging a double-double with 16.5 points, fourth in the SEC, and 10.8 rebounds per game, the top average in the league.

Arnett Moultrie shoots vs. the Tigers.

The Tigers will also focus on Dee Bost, who scored 15 points and made four of his six three-point shots against the Tigers two weeks ago. The senior guard is averaging 16 points and five assists per game for the Bulldogs.

"He is a catalyst for their team," notes Barbee. "Their team wouldn't be anywhere as good as they are without Bost and the plays that he makes for them.

"He is a player early in his career, he thought he needed to score every time down the floor," adds Barbee. "Now, part of the maturity factor, he has grown into a great leader in that he still scores his points, but when they need a bucket, he is the guy, the catalyst at the end of the game that makes things happen."

Auburn will look for Varez Ward to find his offensive groove again versus Mississippi State. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 24 points and dished out five assists in the Tigers' first game against the Bulldogs, but managed only nine points combined in the last two games against the Tide and Rebel Black Bears.

Frankie Sullivan leads the Tigers in scoring at 12.4 points per game, just ahead of Kenny Gabriel's average of 12.2.

In contrast to Ward's two-game slump, guard Frankie Sullivan has found his shot again, averaging 15.5 points in the Tigers' last two games. Sullivan scored 16 points two weeks ago against Mississippi State to complement the 22 points and 11 boards Kenny Gabriel posted against the Bulldogs.

Saturday's game with by the 137th meeting between the two SEC West rivals with the Bulldogs currently holding a 71-65 advantage in the series.

The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn Arena and will be televised by FSN South.

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