Vandy Visiting Auburn for SEC Opener

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo's Tigers will look to find their shooting touch as they open SEC basketball play on Saturday against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Tipoff is set for an unusual time, 5:30 p.m. CST from Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, for a game that will be televised regionally on Fox Sports South.

"Vanderbilt is a typical Vanderbilt team, a team that can shoot the ball from the perimeter," Lebo says. "They are well coached and have very good swing players in Foster and Byars. They are an experienced team--mainly juniors and seniors, redshirt juniors and redshirt seniors. They have got nice balance.

"When they shoot the ball from the perimeter they can beat anybody," Lebo says. "When they don't, they have struggled. We have to defend their three-point shooters and we have got to get some to go ourselves."

Vanderbilt is shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range and 47 percent overall. Auburn is shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 31.5 percent on threes.

After a disappointing shooting performance on Tuesday in a 56-54 road loss at Southern Miss, the Tigers will face a Vandy team that starts three seniors and two juniors.

Shan Foster, a 6-6, 200 junior forward, leads the Commodores in scoring with 15.4 points per game. He scored 29 on Tuesday night as Vanderbilt won 74-69 at Rice.

Auburn's Jeff Lebo says he is impressed with Vandy's Shan Foster's ability to score.

Derrick Byars, a 6-7, 230 senior, averages 14.3 points and 4.6 rebounds for Vandy. The other forward is 6-9, 247 junior Ross Neltner, a transfer from LSU who is averaging 11.7 points and 5.8 rebounds.

The Vandy guards are 6-5 senior Dan Cage and 5-11 junior Alex Gordon. Cage averages 10.3 points and 2.4 assists while Gordon is scoring 8.0 points per game with 3.7 assists.

Off the bench the Commodores feature 6-11, 241 senior Ted Skuchas and 6-3 freshman guard Jermaine Beal, who are each averaging 5.1 points per contest.

Vandy's four losses have come to Georgetown, Wake Forest, Furman and Appalachian State. The Tigers and Commodores have one common opponent, Nicholls State. Auburn was a 92-87 winner over that team on Nov. 28th. Vandy was a 76-40 winner on Dec. 16th.

The Tigers will bring a 10-5 record into the contest vs. the 10-4 Commodores. The teams played a pair of games last year. Vandy won the regular season opener 76-50 in Nashville and defeated Auburn 76-71 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament played at The Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.

Auburn's leading scorer is sophomore Korvotney Barber, who is averaging 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds. Junior forward Quan Prowell is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while sophomore guard Rasheem Barrett is contributing 12 points and 4.8 rebounds per outing.

Two other Tigers are scoring in double figures with junior guard Frank Tolbert averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds while sophomore forward Josh Dollard averages 11.6 points plus a team-leading 7.7 rebounds.

Junior guard Quantez Robertson leads the Tigers in assists with an SEC-best 5.7 per game and he is scoring 8.0 points with 4.6 rebounds per contest.

Lebo says he hopes to see Barrett break out of a shooting slump and give the Tigers a much-needed consistent three-point shooter. "He really has to get it going for us from the outside," the coach says. "He shot a high percentage for us last year."

Through 16 games, Barrett has hit 23-87 three-pointers, a 26.4 percent average. Last season Barrett shot 100 threes and made 39.

"We have yet to find somebody consistent on the perimeter," says Lebo, who adds, "He will make us a lot better if he can get on a roll here and put the ball in the basket from three."

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