On Wednesday when Alabama visits Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tipoff, the 6-4 swingman from Mobile will be one of the few Tigers on the basketball court who has any experience playing in the Tigers vs. Tide rivalry.
"No like matter what is going good for the team or what is going bad, I know both teams are going to come to play for this game and that is what everybody expects," Hayles says of the matchup.
Auburn coach Jeff Lebo has been concerned about how his youthful team would handle the intensity of conference play. The first outing in Nashville on Saturday showed the Tigers have work to do in that area.
"After the first game with Vanderbilt, I think they got a pretty good taste of what it is going to be like from now on," Hayles says of the Tiger newcomers, a group which includes five freshmen who start or play significant minutes.
The 6-4 left-hander, who can play big guard, small forward and even power forward, is averaging 7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 12 games, all in a reserve role. He is shooting 43.5 percent from the field, including 41.5 percent on threes.
Lebo will be counting on Hayles helping on the boards against an Alabama team that the coach says is strong at the forward and center positions.
Hayles agrees with his coach that will be a major factor in the outcome Wednesday night. "They are not necessarily a veteran team, but they will probably have a little more experience than we have, especially on the inside, but I feel like if we come to play everything will work out pretty good."
Auburn is 8-4 overall while the Tide, the preseason favorite to win the SEC West, is 7-6.
Hayles, who is known for his intensity on the court, says personally he won't be any more ready for the Tide game than any other. "I get just as hyped for every game," he notes.
He predicts his teammates will be able to recover from a 24-point road loss at Vandy. "I feel like we played pretty good the first half," he says. "The second half, they kind of got to us a little bit going inside. They were knocking down a lot of shots. They hit a three off the backboard. What else could they ask for? Everything was going good for them. I just feel like that is one loss and we are going to come back."
The Alabama at Auburn game will be televised regionally by JP Sports as second-year AU head coach Lebo looks for his first coaching victory vs. the Tide. The Tigers were blown out last year at Tuscaloosa and had a chance to win at home, trailing by one with less than two minutes left.
At halftime of Wednesday's contest, Auburn's football team will accept the ODK trophy for defeating the Crimson Tide in football for a fourth straight year.