Ellis Concerned About Visiting FIU

Auburn, Ala.--Florida International, a team with a 4-1 record and three foreign players in its starting lineup, should provide Auburn a men's basketball test on Friday night, Coach <b>Cliff Ellis</b> predicts.

A 49-44 victory over Princeton, plus a deep roster with players who Auburn coaches have seen on the high school and AAU circuits, have led Ellis to conclude that Friday night's game is one his Tigers can lose if they don't play well.

Tipoff time is 7 p.m. from Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Auburn is 3-1 after a 78-74 victory over McNeese State on Tuesday.

Auburn is scheduled to start 6-10 center Kyle Davis, 6-6 point guard Marquis Daniels, 6-4 guard Derrick Bird, 6-8 forward Derrick Robinson and 6-5 guard Adam Harrington. Daniels leads Auburn in scoring at 12.5 points per game and is the only Tiger averaging in double figures. Davis leads Auburn in rebounding with 6.3 per game.

The Golden Panthers are led by 6-9, 230-pound freshman forward Taurance Johnson, who after a checkered past in the Pennsylvania prep ranks has surfaced at the Sun Belt Conference school. "He can play at any level in any league," Ellis says. "He is heralded as the most talented big man to go to a non-major institution. He is good."

The second leading scoring for Florida International, 6-5, 208 forward Rodrigo Viegas, is averaging 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. He is a junior from Brazil. Ellis says he is impressed with Viegas, too. "He started at Virginia Tech at one time," Ellis notes. "Carlos Morban was rated as one of the top guards out of Florida when he came out of high school. They are deep. They will play nine or 10 people. It is going to be another one of those tests for our ball club.

"I think what is important for us is to go out and execute," Ellis says. "Also, what is going to be important is to get some energy into this game." With the football team playing on the road at LSU this weekend and the AU men's basketball game competing for fans with three local high school football teams in state playoff semi-final games, Ellis is concerned about the crowd. "When this game was scheduled, we weren't planning to have our (football) game at LSU," Ellis says. "A lot of Auburn people will be traveling. Our team needs everybody who is staying around to come out."

Ellis says that Auburn fans can expect to see forward Abdou Diame in action after not getting off the bench on Tuesday night. "We want to get Abdou involved," Ellis says. "People are battling for that spot (power forward). It is hard to play more than a couple of people at a spot. It is very difficult to play three people at at a spot." Freshmen Robinson Marco Killingsworth have seen more action that Diame, a sophomore.

The Auburn coach says he needs Diame to step up and be a stronger rebounder and hopes that senior Mack McGadney can give the Tigers a boost on the boards, too. McGadney has been inconsistent as he tries to recover from ACL surgery. "That is a major knee injury," Ellis notes. "Mobility is effected. It is not his fault. It is just the way that it is. I think Mack is always going to do the best that he can."

McGadney hit a key three-point shot with a minute left to preserve the victory on Tuesday night. "We need points and we need rebounds from him."

McGadney, a senior from Mobile, says, "I am still working on the knee. The doctor says it takes two years to get back to where you were when you first got hurt. I really feel comfortable where I am at now. These games are really giving me a chance to get to where I need to be in January.

Florida International's loss was a 71-65 setback to Texas-San Antonio and the other victories came against St. Peter's (70-59), Florida Tech (85-68) and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne (82-80).

Auburn's three-game homestand will conclude Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game vs. Louisiana Tech.

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