Auburn to Face Powerful Pitt

Auburn will take on a powerful Pitt team on Sunday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn faces its toughest challenge of the season on Sunday when the second-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers will visit the Tigers for a 2 p.m. game.

The Panthers are the highest ranked of six teams on the Auburn schedule this year that are currently in the AP Top 25 poll.

"We're going to play against a team that is a national championship contender this year," Lebo says of the visiting Panthers. "I think they're one of the teams in the country that can win it all. They really don't have a lot of weaknesses and may be one of the best man-to-man defensive teams that I've seen in a long time."

The 7-0 Panthers have yet to allow more than 68 points in a game this season.

The Tigers have struggled on the hardwood the last two seasons, including a 78-41 loss at Pittsburgh last December, but this year Lebo hopes he has enough height and depth to compete more successfully with the big boys of college basketball. The Tigers are 6-2 this year with close losses to Oklahoma State and Wisconsin.

"We're still not there and we're missing some parts, but I think they have a better understanding now of how physical a team like Pittsburgh is and how good defensively," Lebo notes. "At least our guys who played against them last year understand that. Pitt played very well last year and (head coach) Jamie (Dixon) said it was one of the better games they played during the year. We'll see here on Sunday."


Rasheem Barrett and the Tigers will need to take advantage of all of their open looks to win against Pittsburgh.

The Panthers return everybody but Carl Krauser from last year's team that went 25-8 and lost to Bradley in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year they are led by potential NBA lottery pick Aaron Gray at center, who is averaging 16.9 points and 10.4 boards.

"They haven't missed a beat," Lebo explains. "They've got depth, their backcourt players are all strong, they can all put it on the floor and they're all pretty good shooters. Inside they've got their guys intact from last year so they're older and more experienced.

"They've gotten a nice lift from a player named Mike Cook, a transfer from East Carolina, who has really been a nice addition for them."

Cook is the second leading scorer at 12 points per contest.

As well as the inside presence of Gray, the Panthers are also hitting 41 percent of their threes. Ronald Ramon has hit 16-28 from long range.

As a part of a Toys for Tots drive, fans will receive free admission with an unwrapped toy.

The game will be televised by CSS.


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