Going against Steven Hill and Darian Townes, who are first and ninth respectively in blocked shots in the SEC, Barber had 12 points and 14 rebounds as the Tigers got back on the winning track with a 67-59 victory over the Razorbacks. In Tuscaloosa on Saturday, where Auburn swept the Crimson Tide with a 86-77 win, Barber had 17 points on 6-8 shooting and 10 rebounds against Jermareo Davidson, third in the league in blocked shots, and Richard Hendrix, 12th.
"His last two games he's been awfully effective around the basket area using his quickness," says Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "He's always shooting the ball at a high percentage around the basket because he doesn't come out of around the basket very often. His free throw shooting has been better of late. Even the ones he has missed have been right there. He's given us a big lift, no doubt about it."
"Vot," as he's known by to his teammates, is the only Auburn regular making more than half of his shots from the field at 61.2 percent. As a player still developing his basketball skills, Barber has used athletic ability to his advantage and has made a concerted effort to attack the basket immediately when he gets the ball on the low post.
"He's got to make quick moves because that's where he has his advantage," Lebo explains. "His advantage is not with his weight and his size. Backing in is a size and a weight thing. He's got to be an angle guy and use to quickness to put it down and catch and score right away. I think he's getting more comfortable with that.
"We're not putting him in situations where he catches it and he's flat-backed in there as much," he continues. "He's gotten better at that, but that's something he has to get better at in the off-season. In the last two games against guys who have been much bigger, he's been effective using those quick moves in and around the bucket with right and left hands. His left hand has gotten much better, too."
Most of Barber's shots have come from close the basket.
Barber was a McDonald's All-American out of Manchester, Ga., High School but averaged 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman. As a sophomore he's up to 11.3 points and a team-high 6.7 boards.
"I don't think there is any doubt that he's one of the most improved players in this league," Lebo notes. "He's made just tremendous amounts of improvement from year one to year two."
Fresh off the victory over Alabama, the Tigers play host to SEC West rival LSU on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Bayou Bengals are in last place in the West at 4-10, but are coming off a 66-56 victory over Florida.