Auburn Basketball Game 12 Preview/Notes

Coach Bruce Pearl's Auburn basketball team returns to action on Monday night vs. Middle Tennessee State looking to add to a winning streak.

Coach Bruce Pearl makes a point at Sunday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team will try to win a fourth consecutive game as the Tigers play host to Middle Tennessee State for an 8 p.m. CST tipoff on Monday.

The Blue Raiders, who have won four of their last five contests, will bring a 7-5 record into the matchup vs. the 6-5 Tigers.

Pearl noted that Middle Tennessee State, which has been a power in the Sun Belt and now in Conference USA, will bring a well coached team to Auburn Arena under the direction of Kermit Davis.

“From a half-court standpoint they run as good of stuff as we will see all year long,” Pearl said. “Kermit does a tremendous job of coaching his club. This is a team that I think is (46-8) in conference play over the last several years. They have been champions or co-champions four straight years. All these guys do is win.

“They are really, really good in the half court both offensively and defensively,” the Auburn coach said. “They guard our ball screen stuff well, they sink down well. We are going to have to really execute in order to beat this club.

“This Middle Tennessee State team would not finish last in the SEC,” Pearl said of the Blue Raiders, who have averaged 26.3 wins per season the last three years. “This is a team that would probably finish in the lower half, but it’s the kind of team that you have to beat at home in league play if you are going to be a postseason team.

“They are absolutely good enough to beat us,” Pearl added. “They are deep and their stuff is hard to guard so it is going to be a great exercise for us.”

The Tigers and Blue Raiders have played just twice. Auburn won both meetings with the last one a 68-66 game in November of 2010.

Jacquez Rozier, a 6-7, 220 forward, leads MTSU in scoring at 10.1 points and is averaging 5.8 rebounds per game. Reggie Upshaw, a 6-7, 222 sophomore, is averaging 9.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while Marcus Tarrance, a 6-6, 210 senior guard, is scoring 7.1 points per contest.

TV Coverage: Doug Bell will do the play-by-play with Daymeon Fishback the analyst for the SEC Network.

Four For Victory: The Tigers are 6-0 in games in which four players score 10 or more points and 0-5 when that doesn’t happen.

Home Sweet Home: Auburn is 5-1 in home games and is averaging 78.7 points in those contests while giving up 70.2 per game. The Tigers are 1-4 away from Auburn Arena while scoring 54 points per game and giving up 66 per outing in those contests.

The Tigers are shooting 44.6 percent in home games and just 36.4 away from home. The team is making 36.2 percent of its threes in home games and 24.8 percent away from Auburn Arena.

Big Man’s Blocks: Seven-foot-two freshman Trayvon Reed has played in just four games, but is tied with Jordon Granger for the team lead in blocked shots with eight.

K.T. Harrell leads the Tigers in scoring at 17.8 points per contest.

Three-Point Threat: K.T. Harrell is averaging 2.6 made three-pointers per game. At his current pace the senior guard would have 81 at the end of the regular season.

The school single-season record for threes is 108 by Lance Weems in 1995-96. Harrell’s high single-game total for treys this season is seven, an Auburn Arena record, which came vs. Coastal Carolina. It was also the most by an AU player since Tay Waller hit eight at Ole Miss in 2010.

Three-Point Improvement: As a sophomore forward Granger was 0-2 on three-point tries. He has made 9-23 this season.

Bowers On the Boards: Junior forward Cinmeon Bowers leads the SEC and is third nationally in rebounds per game at 11.8.

Up Next: The Tigers will play their final non-conference game of the regular season with a noon tipoff on Saturday vs. the University of North Alabama.

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