Barbee's Tigers Preparing for Clemson

Clemson will bring a strong defensive team to Auburn Arena for an ACC vs. SEC matchup on Thursday.

Auburn, Ala.--An Auburn basketball team that has been struggling on defense will try to break its two-game losing streak against an opponent that is not having problems limiting the scoring by opponents when Tony Barbee's Tigers play host to Clemson on Thursday.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena. Clemson is allowing opponents an average of just 51.7 points per game, which ranks the ACC team No. 1 nationally in scoring defense.

Coach Brad Brownell's team is also No. 1 in field goal defense, allowing opponents to make just 34.7 percent of their shots.

Clemson, which will bring an 8-2 record into the game, is playing at Auburn for the first time since the 1935-36 season.

Auburn, which is allowing opponents to score 77 points per contest and make 46.6 percent of their shots, brings a 4-3 record into the SEC vs. ACC matchup.

Barbee's team will be in action for the first time since losing to 81-62 to Illinois on Dec. 8th in Atlanta. Prior to that the Tigers were outscored 99-70 at Iowa State in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

Both of those teams did major damage to Auburn's defensive effort with three-point shooting. Opponents are hitting an alarming 41.9 percent of their treys vs. the Tigers. In their last outing against Illinois the Tigers allowed their Big Ten opponent to make 12-23 three-pointers.

Freshman point guard Tajh Shamsid-Deen, who made three of his six three-pointers vs. the Illini, said a key for the Tigers to break their losing streak is to open games more aggressively than they did in their last two outings, something the head coach wants to see.

"It was an eye-opening experience for everybody, not just the new guys," Barbee said of the lopsided losses to Illinois and Iowa State. "Hopefully, it opened everybody's eyes."

Tajh Shamsid-Deen is averaging 9.1 points and 3.3 assists per game.

Against Illinois the Tigers were out-shot 60 percent to 26.1 percent in the first half and found themselves trailing 41-17 at intermission. Barbee's team found its shooting touch in the second half and made 51.7 percent of its field goals in the period while outscoring the Illini 45-40 in the period, but it was way too little too late.

"We have to be a gritty, grimy, dirty defensive identity-type, toughness team," the coach said. "That's what we work on and that's what I preach and that message hasn't gotten across quite yet.

"Hopefully, some of the stuff we did this week in practice, and since our last game, these guys will take a hold of, take ownership of and make it their identity because you can't count on offense to be there every possession."

K.J. McDaniels

K.J. McDaniels, a 6-6, 200 junior forward from Birmingham, will be returning to his home state as Clemson's leading scorer. He is averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Rod Hall, a 6-1, 210 junior guard, is averaging 9.9 points and 4.0 assists per game.

Chris Denson leads Auburn in scoring at 19.9 points per game while K.T. Harrell is next at 18.4 per contest. While Auburn hasn't played vs. Clemson since 1993, Harrell has. He contributed four points for Virginia in a 49-47 victory during the 2010-11 season.

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