Tigers Preparing for Visit From UK Wildcats

The AU basketball team will be taking on 18-5 Kentucky on Wednesday at Auburn Arena as the Tigers hope to start a new winning streak.

Auburn, Ala.--After splitting a pair of SEC road basketball games last week the Auburn Tigers will take on the league's second place team on Wednesday at Auburn Arena.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST as the Kentucky Wildcats bring their 18-5 record (8-2 in the SEC) to take on an Auburn team that is 11-10 overall and 3-7 in the conference. The game will be carried on SEC TV.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee's team is looking to bounce back from an 87-80 road loss at LSU on Saturday that ended a three-game winning streak. The Tigers had problems matching up on the boards with LSU's size.

"They are very similar to LSU in that way," Barbee said of Kentucky. "They are big at every position, including their guard positions. It's no secret what Kentucky does, they beat you on the offensive glass. We are going to do a better job than we did in our last game of rebounding on the defensive backboard."

Kentucky is averaging 79.5 points per game, which is second in the SEC, and the Wildcats are the most accurate shooting team in the league hitting 47.5 percent of their field goals. The Wildcats are holding opponents to 39.7 percent shooting and are plus 10.2 per game in rebound margin.

Auburn freshman Tajh Shamsid-Deen will face talented group of Kentucky guards on Wednesday night.

Freshman Julius Randle, a 6-9 forward, leads the Wildcats in scoring at 16.0 points per game and is the top rebounder at 9.8 per contest.

Six-foot-six freshman guards James Young (14.5 points per game) and Aaron Harrison (14.0 points), are the next leading scorers.

The past three games the Wildcats have started five freshmen and if that pattern continues 6-6 guard Andrew Harrison (10.7 points per contest) will be in the lineup along with seven-foot, 265-pound center Dakari Johnson, who is averaging 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Willie Cauley-Stein, a seven-foot sophomore, is a major threat as a shot blocker and is averaging 7.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.

The Wildcats lead the series with Auburn by an 88-17 margin and 29-13 vs. the Tigers in games played in Auburn.

As his team prepares for Wednesday's game, Barbee is continuing his theme of concentrating on his team rather than the opponent.

I'm thinking about our team getting better and the process," he said. "I'm not worried about Kentucky. They are a good team. They are well coached. We are focused on us right now. We're not focused on record, we're not focused on wins and losses, we are just focused on getting better every day, every practice, every game."

Senior guard Chris Denson, who is leading the SEC in scoring with his average of 20.2 points per game, said, "Every time we play them in the Arena it's crazy and wild in here. The matchup is definitely going to be on the front line and our rebounding. With Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle, that means our guards, me Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) and K.T. (Harrell) have to help our bigs out."

Chris Denson is having his best collegiate season as a senior.

K.T. Harrell is averaging 19.4 points per contest for Auburn and said he is impressed with the Wildcats. "They definitely have a good team and we definitely respect them, but for us it's all about making sure we are getting better and preparing for this game just like any other game. We know it's Kentucky, a Top 25 team, but for us it's the process of getting better."

The junior guard noted the Tigers have been working on becoming a better rebounding team. "We definitely have to rebound the ball at a high level to come out with a win," he said. We have been addressing it. Yesterday we addressed it, today we will address it. We will be prepared.

"Rebounding isn't about how big you are or size or how strong you are, it's all about mentality," Harrell added. "We changed our mentality that we want to get all the rebounds and second change points."

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