Tigers Look For Turn-Around After Break

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers will try to regroup during a break in their season.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's basketball team heads into the second month of the season with just two wins and plenty of questions.

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers, who have been on a break for fall semester final exams, will return to action on Tuesday night when they play at home game vs. Grambling State.

The Tigers, who are 2-6 overall, saw their losing streak increase to four on Nov. 30th with an 80-76 homecourt loss to DePaul in the SEC-Big East Challenge. Barbee has juggled the starting lineup and playing time, but has yet to find a winning combination.

Auburn wasted a career-high scoring performance of 28 points from Frankie Sullivan and a double-double from fellow senior Rob Chubb, who finished the DePaul game with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Unlike after the previous loss to Rhode Island, Barbee was upbeat after the Tigers lost to DePaul, noting he is seeing signs of progress. "We've got a chance," he said. "Like I told my guys, this is a long season. Our veteran guys understand it, our young guys don't."

Barbee noted he liked the play of Sullivan, Chubb and seven-foot center Asahun Dixon-Tatum vs. DePaul. Dixon-Tatum, a juco transfer, chipped in with nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 15 minutes of playing time.

"There was a lot of positive out of this game, we just didn't come out with a win," Barbee said of the DePaul contest, a game his team led 46-42 at halftime and had a chance to win until the closing seconds.

The Tigers went into Barbee's third season at Auburn with a goal of being invited to a postseason tournament. The only player on the roster who has done that is fifth-year senior Sullivan, who was a key player on Coach Jeff Lebo's squad that played three games in the 2009 NIT.

Sullivan said that while scoring a lot of points is nice, his focus is on winning. He said that was the case even vs. DePaul on a night he scored 20 of his team's 46 points in the first half.

"I just try to go with the flow," Sullivan said. "I was hot the first half, and I just kept taking shots. In the second half I tried to do more of running the team, and getting guys like Chubb and Noel (Noel Johnson) open for jump shots."

Frankie Sullivan is shown in action vs. DePaul.

Sullivan added, "It's not about points to me--I promise you it's not. I just want to win. Anything it takes for us to win, I'll do that to win."

For the Tigers to improve record-wise they will have to make improvements shooting the basketball, the only statistical area where they are not even or better than the opponents they have played.

Opponents are out-shooting the Tigers 41.6 percent to 40.5 percent from the field. The difference on three-pointers is more substantial with the Tigers being outscored 397-327 on treys. Auburn has hit 36-110 three-pointers for 32.7 per while opponents have made 39.7 (107-163) percent of their threes shot vs. the Tigers.

Auburn has been outscored at the foul line 107 points to 81. The Tigers are shooting 65.9 percent on free throw attempts while opponents are making 65.6 percent.

When the Tigers return to action the roster could get a boost from 6-2, 175 junior guard Chris Denson, who averaged 8.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 22.3 minutes of playing tie last season. Denson was academically ineligible during the fall semester.


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