Tigers Preparing For Visiting Bama

Auburn, Ala.--After losing to Auburn's archrival two times last season in his first year as head coach of the Tigers, Jeff Lebo will look to end an Alabama winning streak in the series while evening his team's record at 1-1 in SEC play.

Auburn and Alabama will tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in a basketball game that will be televised regionally by JP Sports.

Both teams come into the contest after losing their SEC openers. Auburn fell 74-50 at Vanderbilt on Saturday while the Tide suffered a 71-61 homecourt loss vs. Ole Miss.

In last year's games, an undersized Auburn team fell 60-55 to the Tide in Auburn on Jan. 26th and was blown out in the rematch at Tuscaloosa 94-53. Alabama was ranked 14th in the first game and 19th in the second meeting, but this year is unranked with its 7-6 record.

Even though Lebo's team has the better record at 8-4, the Auburn coach says his squad doesn't match up well vs. the Crimson Tide. "Alabama presents a lot of problems," he says. "Their strength is where we are weak, and that is inside with our youth.

"I know they had a disappointment with the loss of Chuck Davis," Lebo adds. "You hate that for any player, especially a senior who has paid his dues and has improved as much as he has. I know Mark (Tide coach Mark Gottfried) will have them ready to go. A lot of times that presents a lot of opportunities for somebody else. I know that he will turn that into a positive for our game.

"Inside, before Chuck got hurt, collectively, I thought they were probably one of the top three schools in the country with the best inside guys," Lebo adds. "That is where we have had trouble when we had to play against teams that score inside."

Davis is expected to be out the rest of the year with a serious knee injury. He averages 16.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

The leading scorer in the Tide lineup for Wednesday night's game will be 6-10, 220 junior center Jermareo Davidson, who is averaging 13.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game plus 2.5 blocked shots.

Jermareo Davidson

The Tide is also getting double figures points from sophomore guard Ronald Steele. The 6-3, 185 sophomore is averaging 10.3 points, 3.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds.

Davis, Davidson and Steele are the only three Tide players who have started all 13 games.

Projected starters for the Tide on Wednesday include 6-8, 265 freshman Richard Hendrix, who is averaging 8.5 points and 6.4 rebounds, plus 6-6, 215 freshman Alonzo Gee (7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds) and 5-11, 170 freshman guard Brandon Hollinger, who is averaging 2.2 points and 1.3 assists.

Jean Felix, a 6-7 senior forward reserve, is expected to see extended playing time with Davis out. He is averaging 6.0 points and 2.9 rebounds. Justin Jonus, a 6-5 sophomore guard, is averaging 6.2 points for the Tide.

Lebo says he is mostly concerned how his young inside players will do vs. the Alabama front line. The Tigers are scheduled to start three true freshmen with two of those players, 6-7 Korvotney Barber and 6-8 Joey Cameron, struggling to score. Barber is averaging just 6.2 points per contest and Cameron 2.8 points.

"We have got to get those guys going with a little bit more touches, I think," Lebo says. "It is just hard because it is not our best offensive lineup. When you get behind and you need offensive firepower you have to sit one of them probably because we can't score as easily when we have two of them in the game vs. when we have one in the game."

Ronny LeMelle looks to score on Saturday vs. Vanderbilt.

Auburn will be looking for help inside from another freshman, 6-7 Josh Dollard, who is scoring 8.5 points per contest.

Senior guard Ronny LeMelle leads the Tigers in scoring at 12.5 points per contest. Reserve guard/forward Rasheem Barrett, another freshman, is second with 11.7 points per game.

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