Tigers Look To Improve And Stay Unbeaten Vs. Tech

Auburn, Ala.--As Auburn looks to win its fourth straight basketball game to open the season, senior Quinnel Brown says the Tigers are still in a developmental stage.

The senior and his Auburn teammates take on 1-1 Louisiana Tech next with a 1 p.m. tipoff on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"I am sort of pleased with the way we are playing, but not 100 percent pleased," says Brown, a versatile senior who has done a strong job of matching up with seniors and power forwards this season for the undersized Tigers.

"It is good that we are winning, but we have to pick up our play before we get to the SEC season," Brown says. "Coach (Jeff) Lebo has talked to us about being more physical out there and doing a better job with our man to man defense."

The Tigers will face what is traditionally a physical team in Louisiana Tech that is led by 6-8, 240 sophomore forward Paul Millsap, who is averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds per game. Brown, who is listed at 6-6, 210, will likely spend time guarding Millsap.

Quinnel Brown takes the ball inside.

In addition to doing a good job on defense so far this season, Brown's offensive game has improved. He is averaging 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds per contest. That makes him the third leading scorer on a team that is averaging nearly 86 points per game.

"Everybody on our team can score," Brown says. "Everybody is shooting the ball well. We are hoping to get Ronny (LeMelle) back for the next game so that will give us another scorer, too."

LeMelle, a 6-5 senior guard/forward, had preseason knee surgery and has yet to play this season. He also much much of the offseason workouts with a broken bone in his foot.

Freshman guard Toney Douglas took over the team lead in scoring after putting 38 points in the scorebook on Wednesday night as the Tigers defeated Nicholls State 92-78. That tied the school freshman scoring record set by Eddie Johnson in 1974. Douglas is averaging 20.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Douglas scored 24 of his points in the first half on Wednesday night. He got on a hot streak as he snapped the Tigers out of a scoring lull. "I knew I had to step up," he says. "Ian (senior guard Ian Young) was not on in the first half and nor was Nate (Nathan Watson) so I told myself I had to step up. In the second half, Ian started hitting jump shots and I knew when that happened we would take over the game."

Douglas was aggressive offensively on Wednesday night vs. the Nicholls State Colonels.

First year Auburn coach Lebo didn't recruit Douglas, but he likes what he is seeing from the true freshman. "He can flat out score," Lebo says. "We are better when he is out on the court because he gives us another offensive threat."

With the Tigers being unusually small this year, everybody is counted on for rebounding and help on defense. Douglas has stepped up in those areas, too. After playing on a powerhouse team at Jonesboro High his junior season, last season he had to carry much of the load. He notes that experience helped make him a better all-around player.

"It has helped me a lot," Douglas says. "My high school senior year we weren't that good and didn't have much size. My high school coach told me that I had to shoot, play the point, rebound and do all of the little things. I am starting to do the same thing here."

Louisiana Tech comes to Auburn following a 69-66 victory vs. Tulane. The Bulldogs lost their opener 84-63 to Louisiana-LaFayette. Last year Louisiana Tech was 15-15 overall and 8-10 in the WAC. Four starters are back for Coach Keith Richard's Bulldogs.

In addition to Millsap, starters include 6-9, 241 sophomore forward Wayne Powell (9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds), 6-4 senior guard Donell Allick (11 points, 3.0 rebounds), 6-4 senior guard Corey Dean (9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists) and 6-4 junior guard Daevon Haskins (6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds).

This will be the seventh meeting in basketball between the Tigers and Bulldogs with Auburn winning four and losing two.

Young is averaging 19.3 points for the Tigers. He is expected to be joined in the starting lineup by Brown, Douglas, Watson (7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds) and freshman Daniel Hayles (7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds).

"We are getting ready to see the best inside player that we have faced all year in Paul Millsap," Lebo says. "He led the nation last year in rebounding as a freshman. He is averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds in their first two games. He is a man. They have two good post guys, are a very athletic team and are good defensively."

Lebo was less pleased with his team's play in game three than he was in the first two contests vs. Temple and Furman. He says the passing wasn't as good nor was the offensive execution or all-around defense what he wanted to see.

"I told the the team we didn't have our best game by any stretch of the imagination, but we found a way to win in the end," Lebo says. "That is what we want to do.


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