Charleston Cougars Offer Major Test For Tigers

Charleston, S.C.--Auburn's first road trip ever for a basketball game in this historical East Coast city is expected to be a challenging one for Jeff Lebo and his Tigers, who are looking to end a two-game losing streak.

The Tigers and College of Charleston will tip off their game at 6 p.m. CST from the 12,500-seat North Charleston Coliseum. It will be just the second meeting between these teams in basketball. Auburn took a 66-62 victory in November 2004 at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"Charleston is one of the top mid-major programs in the country year-in and year-out," Lebo says. "This year is no different for them. They are tremendously athletic. They are tremendously quick. They are used to winning games in the city of Charleston.

"If you look up their record, it is about as good as it gets," Auburn's first-year coach adds. "We have our work cut out for us on a quick turnaround. I am concerned about our energy and our legs and playing so few guys is difficult on the road."

The Tigers will be short-handed again with senior Ronny LeMelle unable to play after re-injuring a knee that was originally hurt in preseason. LeMelle made the road trip, but his status for the rest of the season is uncertain. He is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday for an evaluation.

LeMelle was injured on Sunday as the Tigers lost 85-78 at home to Wofford, an extremely disappointing result after nearly defeating a nationally-ranked University of Virginia team on the road on Friday night.

The Tigers are now 5-2 while Charleston comes into the game with a 3-1 record. The Cougars won on the road at East Tennessee State 79-72 to open the Southern Conference season on Saturday night. Charleston defeated Charleston Southern 56-41 and Towson 78-58 and lost to Colorado 72-57 in the Preseason NIT.

The home team is led by 5-11 senior guard Tony Mitchell, who is averaging 15.5 points, 2.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Stanley Jackson, a 6-3, 195 forward, averages 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.

The Cougars will have a size advantage at the post with 6-9, 235 sophomore in the lineup, but he averages just 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds.

The other starters are 6-6, 230 forward Bernard Jackson, who is averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, and 6-2, 205 guard Drew Hall, who is averaging 4.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

The Cougars rely on a tenacious defensive style that is forcing 20 turnovers per game. Coach Tom Herrion has a 48-18 record in his three seasons at College of Charleston.

The Tigers are expected to go with their usual starting lineup with five guards--Quinnel Brown, Daniel Hayes, Ian Young, Nathan Watson and Toney Douglas. Young and Douglas are tied for the team scoring lead at 19.3 points per contest. Brown, who plays the post on defense, is averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Tuesday's game will be televised regionally on FSN South.

Lebo is very familiar with College of Charleston. He was 0-1 vs. the Cougars at Tennessee Tech and 2-2 vs. Charleston as head coach at Chattanooga the past two seasons.


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