Pressure on Tigers to Score Home Victory

A preview of the Tennessee Volunteer basketball team that will play at Auburn on Wednesday night is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--After a pair of losses on the road to Kentucky and LSU, the Auburn men's basketball team is looking to get back on track as the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum to play the Tigers at 7 p.m. CST on Wednesday.

Auburn won its conference opener against Vanderbilt and is looking to get back to .500 in league play at 11-7 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. The Vols are ranked 22nd in the AP Top 25 and are 13-4, 1-1. They have lost their last two games by a total of three points.

Former Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson and current coach Bruce Pearl have had a significant height advantage to work with against the Tigers in recent years, but that won't be quite the same on Wednesday night. Pearl's tallest starter is 6-7 freshman Duke Crews. The Volunteers had trouble inside in their 68-66 loss in Columbus as freshman sensation Greg Oden had 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks as the Buckeyes outrebounded Tennessee by 16.

With a lack of experience inside the guard play of Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith and Dane Bradshaw has been the strength of this year's team.

"They really pressure you to get the ball in and they get a lot of steals and easy baskets off their press," says Auburn's Jeff Lebo. "We'll have to handle that and be able to make good decisions in the backcourt to get the ball in bounds.

"The one guy you don't look at probably as much as the key ingredient to them, who I think is a terrific player, is Bradshaw," Lebo adds of the 6-4 senior. "He doesn't really shoot it that well but he knows how to play, he's tough, he leads them in assists and he plays a lot of positions."

Auburn point guard Quantez Robertson will face backcourt pressure unlike he has seen from any other opponent this season.

Lofton is well on his way to making a case for SEC Player of the Year and All-America honors. The 6-2 junior is scoring 22.5 points per game while taking an average of just 14.2 shots.

"He's truly one of the special perimeter players in the country," Lebo notes. "The kid has really improved his game and he's putting the ball on the floor a little bit more now. Some of the shots he makes are phenomenal.

"If I would have taken some of those shots in college for Coach (Dean) Smith I would have just run out and sat on the bench. But he can make them. He really reminds me of Billy McCaffrey (92-93, 93-94) when I was at Vanderbilt. If he got it off, no matter where it was or how many guys were on him, it had a chance to go down.

"He can flat-out get it going from the three-point line," Lebo continues. "They can hurt you in a variety of ways. When you get so spread out on their shooters they drive the ball very well and they've got (Duke) Crews inside, who can really get it going in around the basket area."

Crews is averaging 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds while fellow freshman Wayne Chism is chipping in 8.5 points and 5.2 boards.

Lofton has made 64-138 of his threes (46.4 percent), 60-103 shots inside the arch (58.3 percent) and 71-88 free throws (80.7 percent). Also a scoring threat for Pearl from the perimeter is Smith, who is scoring 14.1 points per game.

Lofton and Smith combined to make 12-19 three-point attempts as the Vols hit a school record 16-29 in their 105-89 victory in Knoxville last season.

The game will be televised on Lincoln Financial Sports.

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