Tigers Hope To End Skid Against Vols

Auburn, Ala.--Two teams heading down a lonesome highway meet Sunday afternoon looking to change their course as the Auburn Tigers (9-8, 1-5) travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers (8-10, 1-4) Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Auburn enters losers of three straight games since an upset win over Alabama back on Jan. 12 while Tennessee comes in following an embarrassing 94-60 loss at home Wednesday to South Carolina. Both teams are searching for the missing pieces to the puzzle and Tiger coach Cliff Ellis said a change in the Auburn line-up may be in order for Sunday's game. It may take something drastic because Knoxville is a place the Tiger have had problems winning in the past. Overall Auburn is 9-40 overall in Knoxville, including SEC and NCAA Tournament play, and have lost 11 of the past 13 games in the city.

"In the season our start, having lost (Kyle) Davis the first couple of games, we've got to start looking to get better right now," Ellis said of his team. "Our focus is to get better as a basketball team and I'm confident in our players and in our team but I think we need to make some adjustments. One of those adjustments is getting Lincoln Glass and Lewis Monroe more playing time at the point and getting Marquis (Daniels) over to the wing. But I think the move of Lewis Monroe was, we had to fish or cut bait with regards to him. The fact that we had started having some struggles forced us into a situation where we felt like there was enough time in the season and we have such good freshmen that we wanted to go ahead and get this group playing together as opposed to waiting till next November or December."

Despite yet another anemic offensive performance in Tuesday night's 69-62 loss to Kentucky at home, there were some positive signs for the Tigers. Perhaps the best of those was the look of the offense with Daniels on the wing instead of the point. With both Glass and the true freshman Monroe in the game, Auburn was a more fluid offensive unit and that's something that could come into play Sunday. Monroe was seeing his first action since the Rutgers game after suffering from back spasms since late December.

Daniels enters the game leading the Tigers in scoring at 12.1 points per game while pulling down 5.1 rebounds and dishing out 4.7 assists. Junior guard Derrick Bird is second in scoring for the Tigers averaging 11.2 points per game and will likely draw the defensive assignment of guarding the SEC's leading scorer Vincent Yarbrough. If Bird can hold his own in the scoring battle, the Tigers should be in good shape to come away with the win.

Perhaps Auburn's biggest key will be the play of guard Adam Harrington. Averaging just 9.5 points per game this season, he needs to step up his play on the offensive end to help out an offense that has become non-existent at times during the three game losing streak. In the three games Auburn is averaging just 62.3 points per game while shooting 37.7 percent from the floor and making just 23.4 percent of their shots from behind the arc. If that doesn't change this game could come down to the play on the interior and Auburn's big men will have their hands full in that department.

Matching wits with Auburn's duo of Davis (6.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 blocks) and Brandon Robinson (9.8, 5.8, 1.1) will be one of the most athletic front courts in the league in Marcus Haislip and Brandon Crump. Both 6-10, the duo combine to average 23.6 points and 11 rebounds per game. Throw in the 18.1 points and 7.3 rebounds from the 6-7 Yarbrough and you have a big challenge for the Tigers.

Help for the Tigers should come from true freshman Marco Killingsworth. The 6-8 Montgomery native is coming off his best game of the year against Kentucky. He gives Auburn the big body they need in the paint to handle the physical play in the SEC. Averaging 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in SEC play, Killingsworth will be counted on to give some quality minutes Sunday. From the looks of things lately, he appears ready for the challenge.

Sunday's 3 p.m. tip can be seen live on your local Jefferson-Pilot affiliate. Auburn returns to action Wednesday night when they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 7 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

* * *

Subscribe to Inside The Auburn Tigers Magazine and Football Newsletter

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories