Tigers Head to the Mountains to Face Rams

Colorado State is off to a 4-0 start as Jeff Lebo's Tigers visit Fort Collins to take on the Rams.

Auburn, Ala.--After winning a pair of home contests vs. the top teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference, Jeff Lebo and his Tigers are in the Rocky Mountains for their first road test, a Monday night game in Fort Collins vs. the Colorado State Rams.

The Tigers, 2-0, will take on the 4-0 Rams at 8,745-seat Mobley Arena in Fort Collins. Coach Jeff Lebo took his team to Colorado early to give the Tigers extra time to get adjusted to the altitude (4,984 feet).

"The altitude could be a factor," says Lebo, who adds that he hopes his team's Saturday evening arrival in Colorado will help his team get adjusted. "I never thought it was a big deal until I took my Tennessee Tech team to Air Force to play, and I threw up just walking down the steps to practice. It is a factor. Hopefully, we will be able to adjust and use our depth in the game."

The Rams are coming off a 64-58 victory over the University of Denver on Saturday night in the Colorado Classic while Auburn whipped Gardner-Webb 70-43 on Friday.

Colorado State also has victories at Northern Colorado (70-57), at home vs. Colorado (83-82) and at home vs. North Dakota State (79-62).

The Rams feature two sons of one of Auburn's all-time great players, Chris Morris, who played for the Tigers from 1985-88 and is seventh in AU history in points scored.

Michael Morris is a 6-4, 215 senior from Katy, Tex., who is averaging 5.3 points and 5.0 points per game as a starter, and 5-10, 175 sophomore guard Sean Morris is averaging 14.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. He scored 34 points in the victory over Colorado.

"Colorado State is very good," Lebo says. "They are undefeated right now. They have defeated Colorado already at home. They have size like they did last year. Jason Smith, a seven-footer, is tough inside. They are much more athletic than they were last year. It is the first road test for these young guys so it will be interesting to see how they do."

Smith, a 230-pound sophomore, is leading his team in scoring at 21 points per game and 9.5 rebounds. He was named to the the Mountain West Conference preseason all-league team and was the conference's 2004-2005 Freshman of the Year.

The two other starters are 6-9, 215 junior forward Michael Harris, who averages 11 points and 5.8 rebounds. Corey Lewis, a 6-0, 170 junior guard, is averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Off the bench the Rams have another big man, 7-0, 260-pound sophomore Stuart Creason. Stephan Gilling, a 6-2, 195 freshman guard, is averaging 4.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per contest.

Auburn, which defeated David Lipscomb 69-54 in the opener, is expected to go with a lineup featuring three freshmen. That group includes 6-7 forward Josh Dollard (9.0 points, 8.0 rebounds), 6-7 forward Korvotney Barber (6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds) and 6-3 point guard Quantez Robertson (5.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists).

The Tigers are also expected to start 6-5 senior guard Ronny LeMelle (15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists) and 6-4 sophomore guard Frank Tolbert (9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds).

Lebo is also relying heavily on his bench. The top two scoring reserves are 6-4 sophomore forward Daniel Hayles, who is averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, and 6-5 freshman forward Rasheem Barrett is averaging 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds. Joey Cameron,a 6-8 freshman, is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 points.

Auburn won last year's game 79-76 vs. Colorado State in overtime at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and holds a 2-1 lead all-time vs. the Rams. The Tigers also defeated CSU 84-54 two seasons ago in a game played in Auburn.

Tipoff is set for 8:05 p.m. CST. After the road trip to Fort Collins, the Tigers return to action at home on Thursday vs. McNeese State.

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