Tigers Look for SEC Tourney Win Vs. Rebels

The Auburn men's basketball team takes on Ole Miss in first round of SEC Tournament at the New Orleans Arena.

Auburn, Ala.--The No. 10-seed Auburn men's basketball team will try to parlay the positive momentum from its dominating victory over LSU in the regular-season finale into a postseason win Thursday against No.7-seed Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Basketball Tournament in New Orleans.

The Tigers will be going for their first win in SEC Tournament play since defeating the Florida Gators in the second round in 2009 at Tampa.

"What I know about my team is that we are going to go into New Orleans with a lot of confidence with a little bit of momentum," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee.

"We are going into the conference tournament, no matter what the matchup, thinking we are going to go in and win the whole thing," added the head coach.

The Tigers will try to duplicate the feat accomplished by Georgia in 2008, when the Bulldogs improbably ran the table to win the SEC Tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Junior center Rob Chubb said the Tigers' side of the tournament bracket sets up well for a run.

"The final phase is where it all comes down to what you've been doing all season so you make something out of nothing in the final phase," said Chubb, who is averaging 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. "We're just going to try and go in and do the best we can and beat who we can beat.

"We got a lot of guys that are still ready to fight and ready to make some noise, and the seniors are definitely trying to turn some heads before they leave," he added.

Auburn (15-15, 5-11) will face Ole Miss (18-12, 8-8) for the third time this season after splitting the first two contests. The Tigers defeated the Rebel Black Bears 69-68 in double overtime at the Auburn Arena in January, while dropping the second matchup 61-54 in Oxford in February.

The Tigers will be challenged by a formidable front line, which boasts two of the SEC's top rebounders in Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner, who average 8.9 and 8.4 rebounds per game, respectively.

"Their size presents a challenge for us," Barbee said. "Their size, athleticism and their versatility, and the way they use that.

"They are one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, and one of the best offensive rebounding teams," added Barbee. "That's a big way they manufacture a lot of points is off the backboard."

Auburn will also have to contend with forward Terrance Henry, who leads the Rebels in scoring with 12.3 points per game. The senior is averaging 16.6 points in the last five games.

"They have one of the more difficult players to match up with, I think, across the country in Terrance Henry," Barbee said. "You're talking about a 6-foot-10 small forward, really a shooting guard that can play inside and out. He's a difficult matchup for most teams on any given night."

Ole Miss comes into the game having won three in a row, defeating LSU, Arkansas and Alabama to polish off its regular season.

Auburn is 1-1 against Ole Miss and 27-48 against all opponents in SEC Tournament play.

The Tigers and Rebels will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CST on Thursday in the New Orleans Arena. TV coverage is on the SEC Network. The winner will advance to face No. 2-seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST.

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