"This is our last non-conference game here at home," says Lebo. "We have been fortunate the last couple of games to win our last two non-conference games at home.
"We have to play better. Hopefully, we will play better than we did against Winthrop and Jacksonville State as this is the lead up to Vanderbilt on Saturday."
Auburn will open its 16-game SEC schedule vs. Vandy in Nashville on Saturday night in a game that will be televised regionally by JP. There will be no television coverage of the Southern Miss game, although the women's contest vs. LSU will be televised regionally on Fox Sports South.
The Tigers are 0-3 on the road this season with the last loss on Dec. 22nd, 72-67 at Texas A&M. Since then they have edged Winthrop 64-62 and Jacksonville State 87-83. In both of those games, the Tigers rallied from 13-point second half deficits.
Southern Miss will be trying to rebound from an 87-82 home loss on Monday night to a McNeese State team the Tigers defeated 91-76 on Dec. 1st.
Larry Eustachy is the second-year head coach and is trying to rebuild the program in Hattiesburg, where he has posted a 17-25 record. Overall, he has a 277-170 mark.
"Coach Eustachy has implemented his personality on the team," Lebo says. "When you talk about his teams, you talk about defense. They guard you. This Southern Miss team is no different than his Iowa State teams.
Coach Larry Eustachy
"Defensively, they really get after you," Lebo adds. "They believe in their man-to-man. They are tough to get easy baskets on. Defensively is where their strength is. Offensively, they have struggled to date scoring. They have had a couple of guys leave the team (Shaun Simpson, 9.3 points per game) and Kendaris Pelton (2.9 points per game) so they are playing a little bit different lineup now."
The leading scorer for the Golden Eagles is 6-3, 215 junior forward Jarekus Singleton, who is averaging 10.1 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Courtney Beasley from Huntsville, Ala., who played at Bridgeton Academy in Maine, is the next leading scorer at 9.5 per game. He is a 6-3, 215 freshman guard.
The tallest starter is 6-8, 205 junior center David Cornwell, a juco transfer who is averaging 6.8 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Off the bench, 6-6, 215 junior forward Mildon Ambres is averaging 4.7 points and the same number of rebounds per contest.
Eustachy has a 1-0 mark vs. Auburn as his Iowa State team took a 79-60 victory over the Tigers in the 2000 NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis, Minn. Iowa State was the two seed that day and AU the seventh seed for the second round game.
Southern Miss has not played an impressive schedule so far this season with victories over Spring Hill (80-67), West Florida (68-59), Tennessee State (84-74), William Carey (90-57), New Orleans (83-78) and Lamar (79-76). In their only meeting with an SEC team this year, the Golden Eagles were doubled up and then some by Arkansas, 77-35.
Rasheem Barrett is off to a strong start as a freshman for the Tigers.
Auburn leads the series 13-1 with the last victory an 78-60 decision on Dec. 30, 2003.
Senior guard Ronny LeMelle leads the Tigers in scoring at 12.3 points per game, but he is being challenged by freshman Rasheem Barrett, who has improved his average to 11.3 after scoring 47 combined points in his last two games. Barrett was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance.
AU's third player averaging in double figures, freshman forward Josh Dollard, is scoring 10.0 per contest to go with a team-best 5.1 rebounds.