"Xavier is just terrific," says Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "They've got four seniors. They've got six guys that average 10-12 points a game. They're tough. They should have beat Ohio State last year in the NCAA tournament. They had them beat and lost kind of on a fluke play at the end. They've played an unbelievably difficult schedule. They've played some big-time people."
Among the quality wins for the Musketeers this season are Indiana, Creighton, Cincinnati, and in the last two games Kansas State and Virginia. Xavier beat the Wildcats and Cavaliers by 26 and 38, respectively.
Auburn has been hit by suspensions, academic casualties and injuries so far this season, but have gutted out a 9-2 record thus far. However, the quality opponents have been limited with West Virginia, Tulane and George Washington as the only big-name schools on the schedule heading into Sunday.
The game against Xavier was scheduled with junior point guard Quantez Robertson in mind so the senior can make a return trip to his home town during his senior season.
"It's just another game really for me," Robertson explains, "just playing against some of the people that I played against in high school and that I know back home, really. It's just really another game, but it's a big game being that it's Xavier. They've been in the top 25 and they're a great team. It's a big game for us and my teammates."
Tiger Ticket Notes
Robertson's recruitment was an interesting one out of Cincinnati and Laurinburg Prep in North Carolina. "At one point in time I was recruited by Xavier, but Auburn came in and I really liked Auburn and I really wanted to get away from home, too. I felt like Auburn was the better fit for me."
Lebo says, "We brought him in, the kids really liked him, he was a great kid and played for a winning program. We decided to take him. You've got an official visit, you go to homes, you see him play in the summer. We didn't do that a lot with Tez because it was June or July. Usually you're finished recruiting at that point.
"We got Tez so late after the Toney Douglas deal and didn't really know a whole heck of a lot about him," Lebo adds. "We signed him really, really late and he's turned out to be a terrific player for us. He was in a situation I think where, because it was late, timing was a issue for him. He didn't even start for his Laurinburg Prep School team. It's funny how recruiting works out sometimes. I think we might have spent about $500 on recruiting him. We saw him on tape and because of the timing of it all and the lateness of it all, he's really turned out to be a pillar for us in toughness. He's an iron man for us. We're lucky to get him that late. It's just odd how it works. I think we might have got him in June or July, something like that if I remember correctly."