Tigers Looking for More Support

Auburn, Ala.--With the No. 2-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers playing at Auburn on Sunday at 2 p.m., Jeff Lebo and the Tigers are hoping to get better support from the home fans than they have in previous games this season.

"I know it would be a big deal to the kids if we had a good crowd," Lebo says.

The team's leading scorer and rebounder, Korvotney Barber, who averages 14.6 and 8.3 a game, says that it would be an emotional boost. "It would help a lot because we feed off our crowd's energy. It would help if a lot of people came out and support us."

The average announced attendance at Auburn's previous home games is 3,160. However, the realistic number is much closer to just 2,000 per game.

"It hasn't been great," Lebo notes. "We're used to it. It's been hard for our guys."

The Tigers are off to a 6-2 start this season with the only losses coming to perennial powers Oklahoma State and Wisconsin in close ball games on a neutral court.

"Vot" Barber slams one home in front of several hundred Auburn fans in attendance.

In an effort to help the needy during the holiday season as well as increase attendance for the game against the Panthers, there will be free admission with an unwrapped toy as part of a Toys for Tots drive. Tickets for the general public are just $10 and student tickets are free to the first 500 and only $2 after that.

"They said when I got here that you've got to bring in better non-conference people in here to play, and I don't know if we can get any better than this one," Lebo notes.

With Thanksgiving, finals and Christmas break, this time of year is always the toughest draw for basketball games. However, the Auburn staff scheduled the game against Pittsburgh at a time where the students are in town before finals in an effort to better suit the fans.

"Our students aren't in school a lot during the month of December and it's hard to find a place to put a game of this magnitude," Lebo explains. "We're lucky to find it here while they're in school at this time to get our student body out there. That will be key. I think our students have got to have a factor there. We put them closer to the court so hopefully they'll come out, enjoy the game and be a part of it."

Pittsburgh is led by 7-footer Aaron Gray, who is averaging 16.9 points, 10.4 and is a potential lottery pick in next year's NBA draft. The Panthers (7-0) are ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 3 in the coaches' poll. Lebo says that the Panthers could be as good as anybody in the country this season.

"Gray is a kid that not a lot of people recruited out of high school," Lebo says. "He just got better, better and better. He's a factor inside. He can score inside, he can make foul shots and he's an excellent passer out of double teams. I think this year, they are the best defensively I have seen in a long time. You can put them up there with North Carolina, Florida, Ohio State. I think they have a chance to win the national championship if things fall in place."

The Pittsburgh center is one of the top players in the country.

"Most places we go, people have an advantage when they have the crowd into the game," Lebo says. "It would be nice to have it here on Sunday. We need every little bit that we can muster for a game like this. I think it would be a huge advantage for us."

The first 1,000 fans will receive and Auburn University holiday ornament.

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