Freshmen Asked To Step Up For SEC Road Test

Auburn, Ala.--Coach <b>Cliff Ellis</b> says it is time for a pair of freshmen to step forward and take key roles for the Tigers as the Auburn basketball team makes its first conference road trip of the season.

Auburn, 8-4 overall and 0-1 in the league, plays the Ole Miss Rebels at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss.

With starting center Kyle Davis sidelined for approximately a month after having elbow surgery on Monday, the Tigers are looking for inside help. Backup Mack McGadney has been limited in the number of minutes he can play because he is still suffering the effects of knee surgery 13 months ago. In fact, Ellis said the knee had bothered the senior so much he was examined earlier this week to see if there was an MCL injury, but that turned out not to be the case although there is a tendonitis problem.

"Marco Killingsworth is a vital player," Ellis says of the 6-8 freshman reserve forward who is expected to see significant playing time along with 6-8 freshman Brandon Robinson, who is scheduled to start vs. the Rebels. "He and Brandon Robinson have really and truly become such keys to our inside game--not what we thought would be happening. But, it has, and we have to deal with it, but it is an opportunity for them at the same time.

"We are in the same situation we were a year ago, ironically, which is amazing but that is what we are faced with," Ellis adds. "We have to understand that, move on and make the most of it because that is what we have because you go with the players you have and what the circumstances are."

Sophomore forward Abdou Diame, who was suspended earlier in the season, is back in the coach's good graces. He could see significant action vs. Ole Miss. "It is time for him to get in, mix it up and come on," Ellis says. "He can help our team."

Ole Miss lost its league opener 82-76 at Tennessee despite getting 23 points from five-foot-five point guard Jason Harrison and 22 points and nine rebounds from 6-8, 230 junior Derrick Allen, juco transfer. The main man for the Rebels is 6-8, 230 sophomore Justin Reed, who leads the team in points at 14.5 per game and rebounds at 7.1.

Harrison, a senior, should be an interesting matchup for Auburn's six-foot-six point guard Marquis Daniels, who says. "I am not even sure he is 5-5, but he is a good player and I am going to have to take care of the basketball."

Harrison is averaging 10.9 points per game on a team with all of the starters scoring in double figures. Allen is averaging 10.0, 6-7 sophomore guard Aaron Harper is averaging 11.3 points and 6-3 junior guard David Sanders is averaging 11.3 points per game.

Junior guard Derrick Bird, who struggled Auburn's 83-77 loss to Arkansas, leads the Tigers in scoring at 12.3 points per game and Daniels is next at 12.1.

The Tigers lead the series 62-40, but the Rebels hold a 29-20 edge in games played in Oxford.

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