Tigers Look To End Streak Vs. Surprising Bulldogs

Auburn, Ala.--Two of the surprise teams of the Southeastern Conference basketball season will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

The Georgia Bulldogs are ranked 17th and 19th nationally and should be even higher, Auburn coach Cliff Ellis contends. The coach probably has a good point. UGA is 18-5 overall and 7-3 in the SEC. Out-of-league victories have come over Georgetown, Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Pepperdine and Miami of Ohio.

In contrast, the Tigers have been a major disappointment. Auburn has lost six straight games and is a dismal 1-8 in league play. The team is 9-11 overall.

The Tigers have two advantages for this contest. Auburn has had extra preparation time with no midweek game. AU has not played since losing a heartbreaker 62-60 to Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The other plus is the homecourt advantage. The Tigers have won 37 of the 48 times UGA has come to town.

Ellis says that fans who visit Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum will see a strong candidate for SEC Player of the Year in Jarvis Hayes, a 6-6, 200-pound forward. The sophomore transfer from Western Carolina is averaging 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. His twin brother, Jonas, is averaging 7.1 points and 4.9 points per game in a reserve role.

The youthful Bulldogs start four sophomores and one junior, 6-4 guard Ezra Williams, who is averaging 17.6 points per game. Other starters include 6-7, 210 forward Chris Daniels (12.6 points, 8.2 rebounds); 6-8, 230 forward Steve Thomas (8.9 points, 6.1 rebounds) and 6-0, 170 guard Rashad Wright (8.0 points, 4.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds).

UGA coach Jim Harrick's team put an 86-68 whipping on Mississippi State on Wednesday night in Starkville. "Steve Thomas did a great job of shutting down Mario Austin," Harrick said of his team's big road win.

The Tigers will start three freshmen--6-8, 240 forward Marco Killingsworth (7.9 points, 4.1 rebounds), 6-8, 215 forward Brandon Robinson (10.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) and 6-5, 190 point guard Lewis Monroe (0.9 points, 1.1 rebounds).

A pair of juniors round out the starting lineup. Marquis Daniels will start as a two-three swingman and will work as the backup point guard with Lincoln Glass being kicked off the squad for violating team rules. Daniels is averaging a team-leading 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Guard Derrick Bird has snapped out of his shooting slump and has improved his scoring average to 11.6 points and is averaging 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

After Saturday's game, the Tigers will have just three more home games as they wrap up a disappointing regular season when LSU comes to town on March 2.

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