Football coach Tommy Tuberville is shown at a December celebration. He plans to join his players to roll Toomer's Corner on Saturday.
Wednesday night Auburn lost an overtime game to Florida 84-78 to fall to 0-2 in conference play. Ole Miss pulled out a 59-54 home win against Georgia to notch its first SEC victory to become 1-2 in the league.
"It'll be a hard game for us coming off an emotional loss because of the way they play," says Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "They've got depth and the way they play everything will be contested. Our lack of depth will be a big factor in this game."
The offseason loss of four key basketball players left the Tigers without any true post players. Halfway through the 2004-2005 season, the lack of height has been apparent, but the lack of depth because of the personnel losses, which includes an injury to Ronny LeMelle, is starting to take its toll on the Tigers also.
Against teams like Mississippi State, which Auburn lost to by 37 points, the lack of size hurt the most as the Tigers were out-rebounded by a 53-33 margin. Against teams like Florida and Ole Miss, which play deep into their bench, depth becomes a huge factor in the game.
"Their depth is where we'll have problems," Lebo says. "And with the way they play, they contest everything--every pass. When we bring the ball up the floor they're going to be in our one-man (point guard) from the time he gets it in until the time he makes an entry pass.
"With us not playing as many people you'd like to be rested and fresh against them," he adds. "You're going to have to do some different things to get into your offense because they just don't come down and let you run your stuff against them."
While Auburn matches up better size-wise against Ole Miss inside than most teams the Tigers face, Rebels' Coach Rod Barnes plays 11 guys for more than 10 minutes per game on average. Lebo has the luxury of playing only seven guys for more than 10 minutes.
No Rebel averages more than 28 minutes per game. Four Tigers average more than 32 minutes per game.
Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes will be looking to see his team even its SEC record on Saturday.
"I think Ole Miss is back to the way Rod likes to get them to play," Lebo says. "It's in your face man-to-man, pressure the ball and hound passing lanes. That's the way they were when they were very good and they've got six seniors. Four of them start and they seem to have good chemistry this year. They've won some close games on the road and are coming off a W at home."
While Lebo may not have as much depth to work with, he does have two of the top scoring players in the league. Shooting guard Toney Douglas leads the conference at 19.7 points per game and senior point guard Ian Young averages 15.9 points per game.
Douglas is coming off a 32-point performance against the Gators.
"When he's on a roll we try to get him the ball as much as possible because he can really do some neat stuff," Lebo says. "When he's on we've got to do a better job of getting other guys staying involve, and using his ability to score to get them more open looks at the basket."
As a senior leader for the Tigers, Lebo says that Young is a player who needs to be involved in scoring for Auburn to have success. However, coming off an ankle sprain Young has averaged only nine points per game in the Tigers' last three losses.
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net at 4 p.m.