"Arkansas is very, very talented," says Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "They have great size and we're concerned about the size against us. They've probably got us at every spot by about four inches and about 15-20 pounds.
"They have a terrific player in (guard/forward Ronnie Brewer) Brewer--a game-changer there," he adds. "They're coming off a heart-breaking loss at Alabama. We've had a week off so hopefully we'll be able to play and shake off the rust early and be ready to compete early against them at 1 p.m."
The Razorbacks are coming off a 78-75 overtime loss at Alabama in which they blew a 13-point second half lead while Auburn comes in with fresh legs after having a week off. The Tigers' last game was a 69-57 defeat in Gainesville on Jan. 14 against the No. 2 nationally-ranked Gators.
Quantez Robertson has turned into an iron man for the Tigers.
"Coming off this week everybody is well rested and ready to play Saturday," says point guard Quantez Robertson, who has played all 40 minutes in Auburn's three SEC games.
"It was very encouraging because we stayed with them," he adds about his team's close loss to Florida. "We took the first couple of punches they threw at us, they changed defenses and everybody was hyped because they were the No. 2 team in the nation and we were up on them."
Lebo says that even though the Tigers are winless in conference play thus far, he has been impressed with the resilience of his young team and his players' attitudes as far playing one game at a time. To beat the Razorbacks Lebo adds that he'll have to find an inside presence against 6-10 Darian Townes and 7-0 Steven Hill.
Townes averages 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest and Hill is second in the SEC at 3.24 blocks per game.
"We might have some advantage with speed at some spots, but we'll have a hard time inside because of their size and strength," Lebo says. "Townes is a terrific player. He's their best low-post player and can score a variety of ways in there. He's the best offensive rebounder that they have. Hill is much improved over last year, although they don't give him the ball as much as they give Townes."
In the backcourt, Arkansas has loads of experience with seniors Dontell Jefferson and Jonathon Modica as well as junior Brewer, who leads the SEC in scoring at 18.2 per game. Modica is the team's second leading scorer at 13.6 per outing.
With three straight SEC games at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum--where Auburn is 8-1 this season--to close out the month of January, the Tigers could use a win to possibly get the ball rolling and get even in the league at 3-3. However, Lebo says his team's immediate goal is just winning on Saturday.
"We just want to play and focus on this one," he says. "We just want to play well in this game. We have to find somebody who in crunch time can step up and make plays for us. When you don't really have a guy, or maybe it's a young guy, you just don't know what you can count on.
"We're outsized inside like we were against Alabam so we'll have to continue to get it in there," he adds. "We've got to get to the foul line. We didn't get to the foul line at all against Florida and had only five attempts. We've got to do a better job of doing that."
With approximately 100 former Auburn players planning on being on campus Saturday for the Legends Game and the Auburn vs. Arkansas game, Lebo says that it's a big day for the Auburn basketball program and a step in the right direction to reach out to those who played a part in the history of the program.
"Every great program, you look across the country, the former players are very involved in the program and feel like they're welcome and feel like they're wanted," he says. "I still feel special when I go back to North Carolina. To have played their, I can walk into the office and still feel special.
"That's what we want," he adds. "Obviously a lot of these guys didn't play for me but we want them to have ownership in this program and we want them to be involved. We've tried to reach out the best we can. We're still working on it and trying to find guys and get them back."