"A Fan's Delight"

Auburn, Ala.—The Auburn Tigers (8-3) open SEC play Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. when they host the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-4) at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Looking to get off to a good start in conference play, the Tigers play host to Coach Nolan Richardson's team and his trademark '40 minutes of hell' mentality. That will test an Auburn team still searching for continuity at the guard positions. One player that looks forward to the challenge is point guard Marquis Daniels. Making the move from small forward to the point this season, the junior said that the Razorbacks present a unique challenge, one he believes he's ready for.

"With their guards it is going to be a lot of hands, a lot of traps," he said. "We just have to be able to handle the traps and keep our turnovers down. I think that starts with me. If I can handle that the team will feed off of me…there are going to be guys that can shoot a lot better (than what he has faced so far this season as a point guard), guys that are a lot quicker than the guys I have been facing. I like challenges, I'm just looking forward to stepping up to them and making great decisions for our team."

Perhaps the biggest challenge the Tigers will face Saturday will be playing without superb shot-blocking center Kyle Davis. Expected to miss the game and possibly a month with a hyper-extended elbow and bone fragments, the defensive stopper will be sorely missed by a team that has quickly become very stingy on the defensive end. Without Davis the Tigers will likely have to depend on senior Mack McGadney (5.1 points, 2 rebounds) and true freshman Marco Killingsworth (7.3, 4.0) to handle the bulk of the load. Although they should more than adequately make up for Davis' absence on the offensive end, it will be all but impossible for the duo to replicate what Davis does in the paint on defense.

While the two will split time at center, the other four starting spots are set in stone as Coach Cliff Ellis will match the athletic Arkansas team with one of his own. Daniels will man the point for the Tigers and he has done more than an admirable job thus far this season. Averaging 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.9 points per game, the Orlando native will have to play very well for the Tigers to handle the Arkansas defense.

The three remaining starters for the Tigers will be guards Derrick Bird (13.2, 3.8) and Adam Harrington (9.5, 3.5) and forward Brandon Robinson (10.3, 5.1). Ellis will also look to the bench for help with guards Lincoln Glass (2.5, 1.0) and Dwayne Mitchell (4.0, 2.9) seeing plenty of action in what is expected to be a racehorse atmosphere inside Beard-Eaves.

"This is a fan's delight, it always has been," Ellis noted about playing Arkansas. "What a great atmosphere and college game that these two teams bring and create with one another. Every game that I have been involved in that has been played here has just been absolute tremendous contests. I call them a fan's delight. I have all the respect in the world for Arkansas. They are always relentless with regards to the way that they play."

Without much inside strength to depend on, the Razorbacks have been maybe more relentless than usual this year led by guards Jannero Pargo (6-2, 165, Sr.), Brandon Dean (6-1, 200, Sr.) and Teddy Gipson (6-4, 170, Sr.). Combining to score almost 40 points per game, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game, the veteran trio are perhaps the top guard combination in the entire league, creating a tough match-up for the Tigers. Inside the Razorbacks don't have much bulk as senior Dionisio Gomez (6-8, 215) and freshman Berry Jordan (6-7, 215) earn the start for Arkansas. Gomez is averaging 7 points and 7 rebounds on the season while Berry averages just 1.6 points and 1.8 rebounds. Top reserves include freshman guard J.J. Sullinger (12.7, 2.9) and forwards Larry Satchell (3.4, 3.2) and Alonzo Lane (3.9, 1.8).

Arkansas enters having played one of the tougher schedules in the country to this point. With all four losses coming to ranked teams (Wake Forest 76-71, Oklahoma 69-54, Illinois 94-91, Oklahoma State 85-76) and a big victory over Memphis 90-73 Wednesday night the Razorbacks are no stranger to tough environments and should give the Tigers a supreme test Saturday.

Tickets still remain for the 4 p.m. start that will be shown live on Fox Sports Net South. The Tigers next travel to Oxford to face the Ole Miss Rebels Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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