Young Questionable For Game Vs. Bulldogs

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo's already depth-challenged Auburn basketball team could be even thinner on Saturday when the Tigers play a 1 p.m. home game vs. Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs, who beat the Tigers 90-53 in Starkville to open SEC play, may not have to face injured senior point guard Ian Young in the rematch.

"I don't know if Ian, with his ankle injury, is going to be able to go," Lebo says. "He couldn't go (Thursday). We'll see if he can go Friday. We'll start the three freshmen (Toney Douglas, Frank Tolbert and Daniel Hayles), Nathan (Watson) and Q (Quinnel Brown). That leaves not too much back there (on the bench). We've got a football player and walk-ons."

Following a 70-55 Wednesday night loss in Oxford to Ole Miss, Auburn stands at 10-10 overall and 1-6 in the SEC. The Tigers fell behind 36-23 at halftime, cut the lead to 44-41, but things fell apart late in the game.

"We were right there," Lebo says. "We did a lot of good things, but we just didn't make shots. Defensively we were good enough. They made some difficult threes. We battled and put ourselves in position where if we could have made some plays we could have won the game."

Senior Ian Young is shown in action in Auburn's lone SEC victory vs. Tennessee.

The Bulldogs are 17-5 overall and 5-3 in SEC play, with all three of their losses on the road. They are looking to sweep their series vs. Auburn for a fourth straight season.

"Mississippi State is coming off a big win against Florida (71-57 on Tuesday)," Lebo says. "Marcus Campbell was terrific in that game. In our first game with them he did not play, but they did have (Winsome) Frazier (who is out for the season with a fractured foot). They handled us pretty easily, especially in the second half.

"What makes them so hard for us is being able to play those big guys (7-0 Campbell and 6-9 Lawrence Roberts) in there together," Lebo added. "We'll have to try to find away to crawl underneath a few of them and not let them catch so easy."

Roberts, who was the SEC Player of the Year last season after transferring from Baylor, had 19 points and 15 rebounds against Auburn earlier this year.

In the first meeting Auburn held its own for the first 12 minutes of the game. The Tigers led 21-20, but State's size and depth took over. The Bulldogs out-rebounded Auburn 53-33.

Although Mississippi State won by 37 points the first game, Lebo says he isn't so pessimistic to assume that his players don't have a shot this time around.

"You look at the recent history of some basketball games," the coach says. "A couple of years ago I remember UCLA going to Stanford and Stanford winning by 52 points. And then they play at UCLA and UCLA wins by 15. Basketball is a funny sport. Odd things happen with quick turn-arounds."

Auburn also has one addition inside since the two teams played on Jan. 5. Tight end Kyle Derozan has added some solid play for the Tigers since joining the team in mid-January following his football season.

"Kyle's picked up some things quickly," Lebo says. "The problem with him is that after he goes up and down (the court) a few times he can't stay in for long periods of time. Offensively, we're limited with him in the game because he doesn't know all of the stuff.

"Defensively, in some ways, he's limited there," Lebo adds. "He's giving us a big body in there where at least knock some people around a little bit and they can't back in on him. He's probably played a lot more than I thought, especially this early."

With Auburn forward Ronny LeMelle out for the season, guard Brett Howell out indefinitely with mononucleosis and the possibly of Young missing Saturday's game, Lebo says that Derozan might be the first player off the bench.

Also expected to see action are walk-on guard Moses Edun, freshman forward/center Ryan Daniel and senior guard Troy Gaines.

Roberts is averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs in both categories. Campbell, 6-5 Shane Power, 6-5 Ontario Harper and 5-11 Gary Ervin are also expected to start for the Bulldogs.


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