Auburn Basketball Game 6 Preview/Notes

The Tigers are back on the road again for a trip to Texas Tech to play in the SEC-Big XII Challenge.

Although it is very early in the season, the Auburn basketball Tigers are making their third lengthy road trip out West as they hit the road to take part in the SEC-Big XII Challenge on Wednesday night in Lubbock, Tex.

Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers, who are 3-2, will take on the 4-1 Texas Tech Raiders at United Supermarket Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.

The Red Raiders are directed by Tubby Smith, a coach Pearl is very familiar with after facing him four previous times. Pearl won twice and lost twice to Smith, who has an all-time record of 529-245 in 24 years as a college head coach.

“Obviously, going up against Tubby is a great honor,” Pearl says. “When you do match wits with a guy who has been there and done that as well as he has, there’s an edge to it.

“I’m trying to do what Tubby did,” Pearl points out. “Tubby took a couple of teams in the SEC, Georgia and Kentucky, to the (NCAA) Tournament. That is what I’m trying to do here.

“Even though he is in the Big 12 and spent some time in Minnesota, the Big 10, he still spent a great deal of his career in the SEC and made his mark on SEC basketball,” Pearl adds. “Not that my career would even remotely approach his, I’m cognizant of what he did at Georgia and Kentucky and that is what I want to do at Tennessee and Auburn.”

Tubby Smith

Smith is in his second season with the Red Raiders, who are coming off a 63-62 victory over Air Force on Sunday. Auburn edged Oregon State 71-69 in its last game on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us,” Pearl says. “It’s an RPI (game), it’s in the (SEC-Big XII) Challenge and when people are sorting out of our conference versus the Big XII these are the kind of games that put you in or out of the tournament.”

Devaugnta Williams, a 6-3 junior guard, leads Texas Tech in scoring with 13.4 points per game. He has hit 14-21 three-point field goals for a team that is making 35.4 percent of its 82 treys and 41.3 percent overall.

Robert Turner, a 6-3 guard from Augusta, Ga., is next with 11.6 points per contest while Nonrense Odiase, a 6-9, 270-pound freshman, is the top rebounder with 6.0 per outing while averaging 9.6 points.

Team-wise the most impressive statistic for the Red Raiders is a plus 7.2 rebounding margin, which should offer a challenge for the Tigers playing against a team that features seven players who are six-foot-eight or taller.

Home of the Red Raiders: Texas Tech is 4-0 at home this season and lost its only road game, falling 69-64 at LSU.

Tigers vs. Tech: These two teams have met just twice with each picking up a win. The last matchup was won by the Red Raiders in 1963 at Lubbock.

Tigers vs. Twelve: Auburn has an all-time record of 13-14 vs. teams from the Big XII. In last year’s SEC-Big XII Challenge the Tigers were pounded 99-70 in a road game at 17th-ranked Iowa State.

Tigers vs. Tournament Teams: After playing four opponents that competed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and another (Oregon State) in the CBI, Texas Tech is Auburn’s first opponent that didn’t reach the postseason last season.

Tiger Texans: Two Auburn players, senior guards Malcolm Canada and K.C. Ross-Miller, played high school ball in the Lone Star state.

Malcolm Canada is in his second season with the Tigers.

Quoting Bruce Pearl on Texas Tech:: “Tubby (Smith) has a young team, but a very talented team. He has a young front line, but he gas done a very good job with them. They have got a couple of really good scorers in the backcourt and they are tough covers, particularly one-on-one.”

Injury Update: Auburn senior guard Antoine Mason, who scored 19 points on opening night when he suffered an ankle injury, returned to practice for the first time on Sunday. He is listed as “questionable” for Wednesday’s game.

Senior Leader: K.T. Harrell has come through with at least 20 points in four of Auburn’s five games and is leading the Tigers in scoring at 17.2 points per contest.

Big Man On Campus: Cinmeon Bowers, a six-foot-six, 270-pound power forward, is averaging 13 rebounds per game, which leads the SEC and is No. 2 nationally. The junior is averaging 15.2 points per game in his first season at Auburn.

Doubling Up: In 30 games last season Canada managed to reach double figures in points just one time. Through five games this season the Auburn senior point guard has made that mark twice.

Up Next: The Tigers will play their third home game of the season and fifth 2014 NCAA Tournament team as former AU coach Cliff Ellis brings Coastal Carolina to Auburn Arena on Friday night.

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