Lebo, Barber Looking for SEC Road Victory

Following a loss in Baton Rouge where Auburn hung tough with a talented LSU team, the Tigers travel to Mississippi State to take on the struggling Bulldogs.

Auburn, Ala.--Following a loss in Baton Rouge where Auburn hung tough with a talented LSU team, the Tigers travel to Mississippi State to take on the struggling Bulldogs.

Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo says he sees many similarities in Auburn, which is 1-6 in the SEC, and Mississippi State, which is 1-7.

"They're not as young as we are, but they're a similar-type team," he says. "They haven't scored a lot of points in SEC play and they've struggled to score at times."

Neither team has reached 70 points in an SEC contest. Lebo says that his players need to start making their open shots, particularly from the three-point line and foul line.

"We're last in the league in free throw shooting so we're giving some away there," he notes. "It's just hard for us to get any kind of easy buckets around the basket which helps you score and get to the foul line. I think our screening action, and we made an emphasis on it last game, is much better. We just continue being inconsistent shooting the ball from the perimeter."

Two of the Auburn freshmen big men, Korvotney Barber and Josh Dollard, are making strides and played well on Wednesday against LSU's Glen Davis, Tasmin Mitchell and Tyrus Thomas.

"I actually thought at LSU it was one of the better games we've played all year even though we lost," Lebo says. "We did a lot of good things. We competed hard, we battled, we scratched, we clawed, we kicked, we grabbed and we did the things that were necessary.

"I think for freshmen to do that, play very physical against a physical team that had us in a lot of areas, was encouraging to me," he adds.

Barber has shown improvements in SEC play.

Barber, known as ‘Vot' by his teammates, had 13 points and eight rebounds and says he's starting to play better basketball.

"I feel a little more comfortable now since I've gotten the feel of the game," the freshman says. "I feel how it's going to be with a lot of contact. I'm feeling real good right now.

"I think we've got a good shot at picking up our first win on the road," he adds. "We're playing real good, we just need to minimize our turnovers. We're playing real good defense. It's just the turnovers that kill us every game really."

With Barber, at 6-7, forced into playing center at times, the game with the Bulldogs should give him a favorable matchup as coach Rick Stansbury often likes to go with a small lineup.

"They have two terrific players, I think, in Jamont Gordon, who's a very, very talented freshman, and Rhodes (Charles Rhodes) inside who can score in there," Lebo says.

Gordon, a freshman forward, leads the Bulldogs in points (13.6) and assists (3.8). Rhodes, a sophomore forward, is averaging 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, but has stepped up his game in SEC play with 16.9 points per game and 7.9 rebounds.

The Bulldogs' starting guards are Jamall Edmondson, Dietric Slater and Reginald Delk. Richard Delk, identical twin of Reginald, is one of the first players off the bench. Their uncle is Tony Delk, who played at Kentucky in the 1990's.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on Fox SportsNet.

Tiger Basketball Notes: In addition to working with AU officials about building a new practice facility for Auburn basketball, Lebo has been lobbying for a new basketball-only facility on the AU campus. Former AU athletic director David Housel looked at that project and concluded it was too expensive and instead approved upgrades to the coliseum with new office suites for the coaching staffs, upgrades to the arena floor and upgrades to the the team locker rooms. Lebo and his staff would like to see a new arena built in the parking lot between Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and Plainsman Park. That facility would include suites, including some that overlook Donahue Drive that could be used on football game weekends with a prime view of the Tiger Walk. Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said he is working on coming up with possible funding sources for basketball upgrades.

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