Tigers Face Challenging SEC Road Trip

Auburn's first Southeastern Conference basketball road trip is a tough one as the Tigers head to Lexington to play the Kentucky Wildcats.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo says that Kentucky offers his team the challenge of playing in one of "the great environments in college basketball" and notes that his Auburn Tigers will also have to deal with a strong UK team on a winning streak as the Tigers move to game two of the SEC schedule.

The Tigers and Wildcats will tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., in a game that will be televised regionally on the Lincoln Financial Network. As usual, Kentucky will have more than 20,000 fans on hand to watch the Wildcats.

Only one player on the Auburn roster, junior guard Frank Tolbert, has played a game at Rupp Arena.

"We have had a road game at Southern Miss, but we haven't had one where we have had as many people there and it has been loud and the communication aspect with your team is huge," Lebo says. "They are going to have to learn what it is like to play (there) as young kids."

The Wildcats come into their game with Auburn on a hot streak. UK has won eight straight contests to improve its record to 12-3. Kentucky is 1-0 in the SEC following a 68-58 road win vs. Ole Miss on Saturday while Auburn edged Vanderbilt at home by a 68-65 score. The Tigers are 11-5 overall and 1-0 in the league.

"We just have to be calm and have poise on the road," Lebo says. "We have to have these upperclassmen, who have played on the road before but not at Kentucky, to have some poise and understanding on the road and not panic."

The Wildcats are led by 6-11, 259 center Randolph Morris, who is having a strong junior season. He is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and shooting 60.5 percent from the field. Morris also has 30 blocked shots.

"Morris, I think, is a much improved player from last year and we all know how hard it is to play in that environment," says Lebo.

""I think Randolph has been a little more aggressive this year," Lebo adds. "I think one thing he has really improved on is his understanding of the game. He is getting doubled a lot and getting different defenses thrown at him. His understanding on when to pass, where to pass and where the open guy has really improved. I think he is playing a little more aggressively than he has in the past and that has really helped him. The rest of the teammates feed off him inside. He has certainly become a big, big factor for them."

Randolph Morris is shown with Kentucky coach Tubby Smith.

Ramel Bradley, a 6-2 junior guard, is averaging 13.3 points for UK and Joe Crawford, a 6-5 junior guard, is right behind at 13.1.

Coach Tubby Smith's team is winning with defense. Opponents are making just 37.7 percent of their field goals and just 28.9 percent from three-point range.

"Kentucky is playing awful well right now," Lebo says.

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