With big wins along with way at South Alabama, Clemson and Auburn, Ellis said he's just trying to focus on the game at the moment despite well wishers calling him the last few days. Compiling a career record of 499 wins and 311 losses, Ellis said they couldn't afford to look ahead to a victory against the Panthers.
"I'm trying to focus in on the Georgia State game," Ellis said. "I've already gotten several telephone calls and I'll be glad when it's over. At the same time I'm hearing from guys that you don't hear from all the time. Players have been calling and wishing the best. When I look back on it it's all about the relationships. The 500th game, the relationships with the players is what comes to mind but I'm really trying to focus on Georgia State. When it is all said and done hopefully I can just sit back and reflect on it."
The Tigers will be without true freshman Steve Leven once again after being suspended for the Wofford game Friday night because of a curfew violation. Ellis said Monday that the Australia native has been suspended indefinitely from the team and will not suit up Tuesday.
That leaves more of the offensive work to senior Marquis Daniels (6-6, 200). The leading scorer against Wofford with 15 points and also chipping in five rebounds and five assists, the small forward said Monday that the Panthers from Georgia State present a tough challenge for the Tigers because of their experience playing in big games against bigger opponents. With wins over Georgia and St. Joseph's last season and a narrow loss to Mississippi State, Daniels said Auburn better be ready for this game.
"Georgia State is a good team," Daniels said. "Even if you're not from around this area in the South they are always in the tournament. They have great guards. This is a team you have to get up for. You can't take them for granted or you might get popped that night. We have to come out and play hard. This being coach's 500th win we have to really come out and put everything on the line for him."
Joining Daniels in Auburn's starting lineup will be point guard Lewis Monroe (6-5, 190, So.), shooting guard Derrick Bird (6-4, 195, Sr.), center Kyle Davis (6-10, 235, Jr.) and power forward Marco Killingsworth (6-7, 235, So.). Killingsworth had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the opener while Davis added 11 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Bird had a solid night with 10 points while Monroe scored just seven points but had three assists and just one turnover in 33 minutes.
Expected to continue his expanded role off the bench is senior Donny Calton. A little-used player for his first three seasons, he scored a career-high 14 points in just 15 minutes against Wofford Tuesday night and will likely see more action Tuesday night. He is a player that brings energy and excitement to the floor and that is something this Auburn team is looking for early in the season.
The Tigers face a Georgia State team loaded with size and quality players. The Panthers defeated North Carolina A&T 76-44 in their season opener Saturday behind the play of guard Lamont McIntosh and forward Cedric Patton. A 6-3 junior, McIntosh scored 22 points and dished out five assists while the former Alabama player Patton scored 15 points. Joining the 6-7 Patton the front line are a pair of 6-11 junior college transfers Nate Williams and Reo Logan. They combined for 10 points and 15 rebounds in the opener and will challenge Auburn's smaller front line in a big way. Guard Trello Galloway (6-7, 191, Jr.) rounds out the starting five for Driesell and had 11 points, four rebounds and five assists Saturday.
"This is going to be a match," Ellis said. "It's what we need. This is a game we need in getting ready for our conference. They're not going to come in here in awe. They have played the Georgia's and the Mississippi State's. They're not going to be in awe. They're going to come in here with quality people. We need that kind of matchup. They've got two 6-11 guys. There will be teams in our conference that don't have two 6-11 guys."
Auburn will return to action Dec. 1 when they face Western Kentucky at 2 p.m. at the Gaylord Center in Nashville. They return home the next day to face Southeastern Louisiana for a 7 p.m. tip-off.