Barbee Likes Practice As Tigers Head North

Auburn will take on Texas A&M in the opening round of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Auburn,Ala.--Tony Barbee says he likes what he has seen on the practice court this week as his Tigers head to Nashville in hopes of salvaging something from a disappointing 2012-13 basketball season.

Barbee's Tigers head into the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament with a 9-22 record, which includes a nine-game losing streak. Auburn enters the five-day event at Bridgestone Arena as the 14th (last place) seed and will take on 11th seed Texas A&M at 9 p.m. CDT on Wednesday.

The third-year Auburn coach notes that he told his players that in the postseason "you can throw everything out the window" for a fresh start. "The teams that are excited about continuing their seasons have a chance to do that," he says.

Barbee says that Auburn's lack of success this season has not been for a lack of trying."This team knows that I appreciate them every single day because of their toughness, the fight, and heart and the will to win," he says.

"This team has faced a lot of adversity, but they haven't quit on each other, this university or on me," Barbee adds. "We are still excited about being around each other and I know I am still excited about coming to practice every day ready to coach these guys and help them get better.

"You will not see a team that works any harder than this team does," the coach contends. "It has been all year long and it has been consistent, and Monday was one of the best practices we have had all year long."

Wednesday night's game will be the second meeting with the Aggies this season. Texas A&M defeated the Tigers 65-56 in Auburn on Feb. 20th. Auburn jumped out to a 12-0 lead, but the Aggies shot 55 percent in the second half to take the comeback victory.

Elston Turner led Texas A&M to the victory with 21 points vs. the Tigers, but he is injured and is considered questionable for Wednesday night's contest.

Allen Payne is averaging 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Tigers.

Junior forward Allen Payne led the Tigers in scoring vs. Texas A&M with 11 points while Rob Chubb, Chris Denson and Jordan Price added nine points each.

"It has been a challenging year even though it is not over," Barbee says. "There has been a lot of frustration for myself, our staff and I know the players are frustrated...but I know our guys are going to Nashville ready to compete."

Team MVP: Redshirt senior point guard Josh Wallace was honored on Monday night at the team's award ceremony with the Most Valuable Player award. The civil engineering student played his first four seasons as a walk-on before going on athletic scholarship for the 2012-13 season.

More Awards: Another senior guard, Frankie Sullivan, won the Paul Lambert/Tommy Joe Eagles Award for his leadership and all-around performance on and off the court throughout his AU career.

Frankie Sullivan is leading the Tigers in scoring with 14.4 points per game.

Senior Rob Chubb was named the top rebounder for the 2012-13 season, freshman Shaquille Johnson was named the top newcomer, freshman Jordan Price was named most improved, junior Asauhn Dixon-Tatum won the top defensive player award and junior Chris Denson was honored as the top playmaker.

K.T. Harrell, a transfer guard from Virginia who is redshirting, won the coach's award for his efforts in practices. Senior guard Dylan Spencer took the academic achievement award.

K.T. Harrell is shown while playing for the UVA Cavaliers.

Nashville Tournaments: Auburn is 3-5 all-time in SEC Tournament games played in The Music City, but the Tigers are 0-4 in tournament games at Bridgestone Arena.

Battle In Nashville: Ronnie Battle will be Auburn's 2013 SEC Tournament Legends honoree. The guard from Pittsview, Ala., scored 1,916 points for the Tigers. His 43 points vs. Georgia in 1992 is the seventh most points scored by a player in an Auburn game.

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