Tigers Heading to Ole Miss for SEC Opener

The Auburn basketball Tigers will look to win for a fifth consecutive time as they take on Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.--Riding a four-game winning streak the Auburn basketball team opens SEC play on Thursday in Oxford as the Tigers take on Ole Miss.

Game time is 6 p.m. CST and the contest will be televised on ESPN2 matching 8-3 vs. the 9-4 Rebels.

"We are looking forward to the challenge in the league this year," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "We have a difficult start in the league, going to Ole Miss on Thursday and then follow that up with the Saturday early game against a very talented Missouri team.

"It is going to be a challenging opening weekend, but I think our non-conference schedule and what we have done has prepared us for the grind of what is going to become of the league this year."

The Tigers will catch a break on Thursday because Ole Miss star guard Marshall Henderson is suspended for the first two games of league play. He is averaging 18.8 points per contest.

"He is one of those players that makes everyone around him better because of the attention he draws," Barbee said of Henderson. "There is not much to go on in terms of Ole Miss without Marshall on the floor. We will just look at the games that they played and some of the times he is off the floor to try and figure out what they will try and do without him on the floor.

"Make no mistake about it, they've got another player, Jarvis Summers, who is one of the better players in the league at the guard position and he has the ability to do the same things as if not more as Marshall on the floor if not more with his size, scoring ability and ability to rebound from that guard position. It is still going to be a difficult match-up even without Marshall there."

The Tigers feature a strong one-two scoring punch from the guard spot. Junior K.T. Harrell is averaging an SEC-leading 19.4 points per game and senior Chris Denson is averaging 19.0 per contest.

Harrell is second in the league in free throw shooting at 87.9 percent, fourth in three-point shooting at 42.6 percent, sixth in three-pointers made at 2.4 per game and 10th in field goal percentage at 50.4.

Harrell has scored 213 points, the most in the first 11 games since Marquis Daniels had 221 to open the 2002-03 season.

Denson is ninth in the SEC in field goal percentage at 51.1. Either Denson or Harrell have led the Tigers in scoring in every game this season.

Senior forward Allen Payne is coming off a career-high rebounding game as he pulled in 13 vs. Florida A&M to go with 16 points.

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