Cat Fight Wednesday Night at Rupp

A preview of Auburn's visit to Rupp Arena on Wednesday night.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's basketball team (11-5 overall, 1-0 SEC) opens the SEC road schedule at Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. CST on Wednesday against the Kentucky Wildcats (12-3, 1-0). The game will be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports.

The Wildcats' are 8-0 this season at Rupp and have lost only to UCLA, Memphis and North Carolina, all away from home. Tubby Smith's squad has won its last eight games including a 68-58 victory at Ole Miss to start SEC play on Saturday. They have won games this season against DePaul, Indiana and Louisville.

"I think the biggest difference for them this year is the consistent emergence of (Randolph) Morris," says Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "He's been more aggressive offensively this year and his mindset has been more aggressive to get the basketball."

Morris is scoring at a 16.7 per game pace to lead the team. He's also pulling down 8.2 boards and blocking two shots per game. Junior guards Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford are contributing 13.3 and 13.1 points per game, respectively.

"I like Ramel Bradley on their team also," Lebo notes. "He's made big shots and he's shooting the ball well from the perimeter and also can be you off the bounce a bit. He's a guy that has played in the background the last couple of years and started come on a little bit last year toward the second part of the year.

"Crawford is a guy who was a McDonald's All-American who they have been waiting for and waiting for to turn it on," he continues. "He's been up and down and he's coming off a big game against Ole Miss. He's certainly of capable and a very talented offensive player."

Crawford had 13 points, six assists and four rebounds against the Rebels.

Another veteran in the lineup is 6-8 senior forward Bobby Perry, who is scoring just 6.8 points per game, but is a capable scorer when called upon.

One of the keys in the game, Lebo says, will be the matchup of the 6-11 Morris against 6-7 Korvotney Barber and 6-7 Josh Dollard inside.

"It'll be interesting to see how it works," Lebo notes. "(Morris) is such a load inside. We're not going to completely take him out of the game. Nobody really has completely. You've got to limit his touches in there a little bit. He's become such a good passer. A lot of guys get their looks off the ball going into him."


Rasheem Barrett and the Auburn guards must shoot well against Kentucky.

Auburn got its three-point shots to fall in the 68-65 victory over Vanderbilt (14-28), and must continue to get those to fall to stay competitive at a hostile environment.

"We have to be able to beat them off the dribble a little bit and our three-point shot from key spots have to be able to go," Lebo says. "We're going to have to mix, which we have done in the past, and try not to let them get any flow going offensively. That's an easy thing to say and a tough thing to do in that place."

Junior guard Frank Tolbert is the only Tiger to have played at Rupp, where the Wildcats are drawing an average of 22,770 fans this season.

"When I walked out it I saw a whole sea of blue," Tolbert says of the experience his freshman year. "There are going to be a lot of people there yelling and screaming at us. I just tell (my teammates) to go in and play your game and try to block the crowd out.

"To me it doesn't really make a difference," he adds. "Actually I like the big, hostile environments. But for some of the young guys it might intimidate them a little bit because they've never played in front of that many people."


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