Barbee's Tigers Open SEC Play Vs. LSU

Coach Tony Barbee's basketball Tigers will play host to LSU on Wednesday night at the Auburn Arena.

Auburn, Ala.--Ready or not, the SEC season is here for Coach Tony Barbee's Auburn basketball Tigers as they begin league play on Wednesday night with a home game vs. LSU.

Asked what his team needs to do better in conference play than it did while compiling a 6-7 record in non-league games, Barbee said, "We have got to defend at a higher level than we have been defending.

"The one area that we have improved on a little bit here over the last week or so is that we have been scoring the ball at a more efficient clip across the board, not just relying on one guy. We have multiple guys stepping up, but defensively we have got to get better in that area as we go into league play.

"Obviously, we understand how good teams are in this league, and there a lot of good coaches, so defensively we have got to play at a higher level than we've been playing," Barbee added.

Auburn and LSU will tip off at 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday. The Bayou Bengals will bring a 9-2 record into the contest that will be televised on CSS.

Tony Barbee

The Tigers ended pre-conference play with perhaps their best outing of the season during a 78-72 victory. The Tigers accomplished the win vs. the defending ACC champs without the services of the team's No. 2 leading scorer, junior guard Chris Denson, as well as freshman guard Jordan Price, who Barbee calls the team's best three-point shooter. Both are sidelined with injuries.

"It's always a big adjustment when you lose two guys who are averaging 22-23 points between the two of them," Barbee said. "It's always an adjustment, but I think every coach talks about the same thing with their team. There is a group of guys on the bench that probably aren't getting as many minutes or the time or the opportunity that they think they deserve or expect, but we always talk about being ready for the opportunity when it comes.

"We had some guys that stepped up with those two guys being out and they will have to continue to step up," Barbee added. "Those two will probably be out most of the month of January so some of the guys who got the opportunity to play against Florida State will continue to have that opportunity once we start in league play."

Against the Seminoles junior forward Allen Payne stepped up with a career-high 17 points and freshman guard Shaquille Johnson had a solid all-around performance. In the previous game vs. Illinois, Payne had his first college double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior guards Frankie Sullivan and Josh Wallace have stepped up, too, with Sullivan scoring 24 points vs. the Seminoles and Wallace contributing six assists.

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