Bruce Pearl (above) and the Tigers will take on an Ole Miss team that is trying to snap a losing streak.
Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn will try to even its SEC basketball record and pick up its first league road victory in the process when Bruce Pearl’s Tigers take on the Ole Miss Rebels on Wednesday.
Tipoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. CST for the contest that will be played at The Pavilion, a new 9,051-seat facility for the Rebels that opened this month. The game will televised on the SEC Network.
Auburn will be trying to bounce back from its most lopsided loss of the year, a 95-63 setback in Gainesville on Saturday night vs. the hot-shooting Florida Gators. The Tigers are 9-9 overall and 3-4 in the SEC.
Ole Miss, which is 12-7 overall and 2-5 in the league, will be trying to break a four-game losing streak. Like the Tigers the Rebels are dealing with injury problems. In Saturday’s 83-77 loss at Mississippi State they played without Stefan Moody, a 5-10 senior guard who leads the SEC in scoring at 24.3 points per game.
Stefan Moody and the Rebels defeated Auburn 86-79 last season.
Moody, who is trying to recover from a hamstring injury, may be able to play vs. the Tigers, according to Coach Andy Kennedy, who notes that 6-9 forward Sebastian Saiz is out of action this week due to an eye injury. The junior is averaging 12.8 points per game and a team-leading 9.8 rebounds.
Another Ole Miss starter, 6-3 senior guard Martavious Newby, has missed the last two games with an eye problem, but may be back for Wednesday’s game. He is averaging five points per contest.
Auburn’s Pearl knows about playing without missing starters. Junior guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen will miss the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery while junior guard T.J. Dunans has not played since hurting his knee on Dec. 23 in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. It is still to be determined if he will be ready for action this season after having his knee scoped.
Pearl notes that his team will need to play much better than it did on Saturday night to win on the road. “The best thing about it is the score is tied 0-0 so we’re not down 15, which we were within six or seven minutes of that game,” he says referring to his team’s poor start at Florida. “So the challenge is (Florida coach) Mike White is a disciple of Andy Kennedy so there are some things that Florida did pressing us and some things that bothered us that I’m sure Ole Miss will try to duplicate.
“We will have to do a better job attacking pressure, but not playing out of character,” Pearl says. “Ole Miss has typically played a lot of zone and changed defenses between man, 2-3 and 1-3-1 so there is a lot to prepare for. At this time of the year, it’s a lot easier because we’ve got basically everything--a lot of our stuff is in. It’s just a matter we haven’t played against some of that stuff in a while so we’ll try to get freshened up on it.”
Pearl notes that in the road losses to Florida and Vanderbilt his team’s defense was the issue and in the loss at Missouri the offense struggled. “We have got to get stops,” he says.
With Saiz out and if Moody is a no-go, the leading scorer for Ole Miss is 6-5 junior guard Rasheed Brooks, a juco transfer who is averaging 9.1 points per game. Tomasz Gielo, a 6-9, 228 senior forward from Poland, is averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. Anthony Perez, a 6-9, 226 senior from Venezuela, is averaging 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Junior guard Kareem Canty leads the Tigers in scoring at 18.9 points per outing while Tyler Harris is next at 15.2 followed by Cinmeon Bowers, who is averaging 11. points and a team-leading 9.4 rebounds.