Extra Practice and Motivation Help Barrett

Auburn's Rasheem Barrett helped the basketball Tigers improve their record to 12-5 after their final non-conference game.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's 78-65 basketball victory over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose featured a stellar performance from junior guard Rasheem Barrett. The Atlanta, Ga., native scored 24 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, added two assists and helped save his teammates from running extra wind sprints at practice.

Barrett notes that he got himself "pumped up" to play well from the start to the finish of the unusual late January non-conference game because of what he expected would have happened if he and the Tigers played sloppy basketball against a team they were favored to beat.

"In truth, I just said I didn't want to go practice tomorrow with Lebo running me--running the mess out of us for lackadaisical play," Barrett says. The junior notes that head coach Jeff Lebo did a little yelling during a timeout that convinced him that he wanted to avoid the repercussions of having an angry coach at Wednesday's practice. "I just told them (his teammates), ‘Look man, we have got to come on, I don't want to run.'"

Barrett, who had been concerned about his shooting this season, has been trying to do something about that with extra shooting drills. He came into Tuesday's night's game hitting 42.6 percent from the field prior to making 9-11 shots vs. Presbyterian as his team improved its record to 12-5.

"I just kept going to the gym and it finally paid off," Barrett says. "Some say you don't see it the next game, but I'm glad it paid off."

The 24-point performance was the junior's 13th double-digit scoring game of the season and his second career double-double. It was the first double-digit scoring game since Jan. 10 when Barrett finished with 21 points in the SEC opener vs. Arkansas.

Barrett was hot from the beginning vs. Presbyterian, scoring 14 points in the first half, including two three-pointers. He would finish 4-5 from behind the arc for the game.

The junior also helped the Tigers take a commanding edge in rebounding, 39-22. Barrett noted he went into the game intent on improving in that area and finished with 10 rebounds.

"Coach Dave (assistant Dave Lebo) threatened me at lunch time today and told me I better get some rebounds or he was going to run," Barrett says. "He just went back to my freshman year and sat me down and told me about rebounding and how I used to do it all of the time. I really sat down and thought about that and realized that ‘yeah, my freshman year I remember that.' I used to go almost every time to the boards. I just know that I have just got to get back to that because it is going to help my team out now that Vot (Korvotney Barber) is out. I can help Quan (Quan Prowell) out."

In a game in which there was opportunity to let one's guard down against a team moving up to Division I that had won just two games this season, the 6-5 junior played hard, helping his teammates close out defensively against the three-point shooting barrage of the Blue Hose that included 14 made treys.

With the non-conference game vs. Presbyterian scheduled between last Saturday's SEC test vs. a hot Ole Miss team and this Saturday's rivalry game at Alabama, Barrett admits it would be easy to overlook a team like the Blue Hose. "Any player in the country will tell you it is extremely hard," he says. "You just have to find some way to stay inside you and stay pumped."

Barrett notes there is a natural tendency to let up against an opponent that you think you should beat, especially after jumping out to an early lead against them. "At halftime we tried to tell everybody not to get into bad habits," he says. "These are the games it is easy to get into bad habits--more turnovers, taking bad shots, doing things you know you are not supposed to be doing. You try to stay away from that."

Barrett certainly did his part. In addition to scoring 24 points on just 11 field goals and contributing two offensive rebounds and eight defensive rebounds, he added two assists and had just one turnover in 30 minutes of action.

When the junior returns to practice, he will be able to focus on Saturday's road trip to Alabama rather than worrying about wind sprints.

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