Unbeaten Texas A&M Next Challenge For Tigers

A preview of Auburn's road trip to face the Aggies of Texas A&M is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn Tigers are looking for their third consecutive win as they hit the road for a Thursday night basketball game vs. the 7-0 Texas A&M Aggies of the Big 12 Conference.

Tipoff time is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with the contest being the second half of a doubleheader with the Texas A&M women playing the early game.

"They feel good about themselves," Lebo says of his Tigers following back to back wins. "It is nice to be able to challenge them again with a road game.

"This is the first time in a long time that Auburn has had three legitimate road non-conference games," says Lebo, whose team lost a close game at Colorado State and was plastered at Pitt. "There are some years when they went and played some neutral site games. You don't see many people at this level play three legitimate road games...especially before Christmas."

Texas A&M hasn't played away from its home court, 12,500-seat Reed Arena, this season and won't do it until league play begins. The victories have come against Southern (88-44), Mississippi Valley State (84-53), Tulane (83-57), Penn State (60-55), North Texas (72-70), Grambling (101-71) and Savannah State (67-34).

Coach Billy Gillespie has a veteran team with four returning starters from a squad that finished 21-10 overall last year with an 8-8 mark in the Big 12. The Aggies reached the quarter-finals of the NIT, the first winning season and postseason bid for the program in 11 years.

Joseph Jones, a 6-9, 250 sophomore forward, leads the Aggies in scoring and rebounding. He averages 15.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest.

Acie Law drives vs. Texas.

Acie Law, a 6-3 junior guard, is scoring 14.3 points per game with 3.3 assists per contest.

The Aggies use a three-guard lineup that features 6-5 freshman Josh Carter (9.9 points, 3.3 assists) and 6-3 sophomore Dominique Kirk (8.4 points, 3.3 assists).

The other starter is 6-8, 225 Canadian Marlon Pompey, who is averaging 7.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. Eddie Smith, a 6-2 senior guard, is averaging a team-high 4.4 assists plus 7.0 points in a reserve role.

Senior Ronny LeMelle is Auburn's only player averaging in double figures for points per game at 13.1. He has been a deadly three-point shooter, making 19-36 attempts this season.

Freshman forward Josh Dollard is the next leading scorer at 9.3 points per game to go with 4.7 rebounds. Freshman forward Korvotney Barber leads the Tigers in rebounding with 5.6 per game and averages 7.0 points.

The key player early in the season has been another freshman, 6-4 lefty point guard Quantez Robertson, who is averaging 31.7 minutes of action per contest. He sports an impressive 4.33-1 assist to turnover ratio and is averaging 7.3 points, 5.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game while also playing solid defense.

Sophomore guard Frank Tolbert has bounced back from an early season slump with strong performances in the last two games. He is helping fill the void at backup point guard after Michael Woodard quit the team after five games.

The Tigers are coming into the contest with the momentum from a 66-51 victory over Southeastern Louisiana followed by a 73-42 blowout of Temple to improve their record to 5-2.

The Temple game marked the Auburn debut of sophomore transfer Emanuel Willis, who scored six points, added six rebounds and blocked two shots in 21 minutes of action. The 6-7 forward says he was surprised he got so much playing time in his debut.

"He will help us athletically," Lebo says. "He can shoot the ball from the perimeter a little bit. He is an athletic guy. He can alter a shot in around the basket. He is a quick twitch guy. He will be able to give us some energy with his dunks."

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo has a 19-19 mark in his second season at AU.

Commenting on the Aggies, Auburn's coach says, "It will be a tough environment against a very good basketball team and a very well-coached basketball team."

Texas A&M has shot the ball well early in the season, making 48 percent of its field goals and 39.8 percent of 133 attempted three-pointers. Auburn is shooting 44.2 percent and has made 39.7 percent of its 126 three-pointers.

AU is hitting a dismal 57.9 percent of its foul shots and has a 38.0-36.0 edge in rebounds per game. The Aggies are making 68.2 percent of their foul shots and out-rebound opponents by a 32.6-30.7 margin.

The Aggies have forced 167 turnovers while committing 97. Auburn has forced 121 turnovers and made 110.

The Tigers lead the series with the Aggies 2-1 with the last meeting an 86-83 Tiger victory at College Station on Dec. 4, 1991 as Chris Brandt scored 26 points to lead the Tigers.

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