Auburn to Entertain No. 13 Texas A&M

Auburn head basketball Jeff Lebo talks about his Tigers' upcoming game against the Aggies.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo's 9-3 Auburn basketball team will play host to another of the nation's top teams as the 13th ranked Texas A&M Aggies visit Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum for a Friday 7 p.m. tipoff.

Led by point guard Acie Law IV and power forward Joseph Jones, the Aggies come into the game with a 9-2 record. The two losses came to No. 12/15 LSU and No. 1 UCLA.

"Texas A&M is a very physical team, a defensive minded team and experienced team," Lebo says. "They've got two seniors starting and two juniors. They may be even more physical than the Pitt team that we played. We'll see what we're made of here on Friday."

Law and Jones both average 14.2 points per game this season and were the difference in the game last year with the Aggies beating the Tigers 72-67 in College Station. Jones had 24 points and Law had 19 in the victory.

Another physical presence inside for TAMU is Antanas Kavaliauskas, a 6-9 250-pound senior from Vilnius, Lithunia who is averaging 13.1 points and 5.6 boards.

"He's really gotten better and he's really improved," Lebo says of Kavaliauskas. "He's one of the most improved players. He looks like a different guy this year than he did last year. He really wasn't a factor for them last year. I think Korvotney Barber is kind of the same thing. He's really gotten better for us this year inside.

"What he adds to them is another inside scoring threat and he's shooting 64 percent from the field, which is second in the Big XII," Lebo continues. "Inside they're pretty good passers in there. They work together--him and Jones. He's just a physical presence."

Auburn has gotten its best inside play of the Lebo Era this year from Barber and Josh Dollard and should continue to get better down low with Quan Prowell now in the line-up for the Tigers. However, they will have their hands full on Friday against the pair of 250-pounders for Texas A&M.

Auburn's guards must limit Law's penetration to the hoop.

Barber is scoring 14.8 per game and pulling down 7.8 boards. Since Dollard returned to action on Nov. 28 he is averaging 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. Prowell scored just six points with three rebounds and fouled out in nine minutes in his Auburn debut in Tuesday's 86-59 win over Tennessee State.

Texas A&M won its first seven games of the season before falling to NO. 9 LSU and no. 1 UCLA, but has won its last two games against Fordham and Jacksonville. Auburn has won consecutive games against South Alabama, Wofford and Tennessee State since its loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 3.

With only two more non-conference games after this for Auburn, Lebo says that a win against a nationally ranked team would give his players a boost heading into SEC play.

"It'd be big for the kids and their confidence," Lebo notes. "Maybe that is the next step, I don't know. I just want to get better and I think we have gotten better. We're still a work in progress in many areas but we have made improvement. We've got to earn the right to win these games."

The game will be televised on CSS at 7 p.m. CST.

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