One problem for the Tigers this season has been turnovers. Averaging 18.5 per game compared to just 15 for their opponents, Coach Cliff Ellis' squad has been sloppy with the ball and that continued Monday night. Turning the ball over 20 times to allow a lesser opponent to hang around despite shooting under 40 percent for the game, Auburn must begin to clean up the ball handling and passing now in order to have its game in shape for conference play when the new year begins.
Oddly enough the two players that lead the team in turnovers are the two seniors Marquis Daniels and Derrick Bird. Averaging over three turnovers per game, Daniels has been forcing the play on the offensive, but that has in turn led to an increase in his scoring average. Pumping in 20.5 points per game to lead the team while pulling down 6.8 rebounds, dishing out five assists and shooting an astounding 68 percent from the floor, the 6-6 small forward has been the star for Auburn this season and that comes as no surprise.
Derrick Bird scores against Southeast Louisiana. He is averaging 13 points per game this season.
The surprise has been the play of sophomore forward Marco Killingsworth. Averaging 18.3 points and a team high 7.3 rebounds per game, the physical Montgomery native has been very active on both ends of the court for the Tigers. Shooting 69.8 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the line, he has improved his touch and shot selection this season. Rounding out Auburn's starting lineup is center Kyle Davis (9.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) and point guard Lewis Monroe (5.8, 2.3).
The visiting Bulldogs are led in scoring by powerful senior forward Charles Gilmore (6-8, 265), who averages 13 points and 5 rebounds per contest. A name that should be very familiar to basketball fans is Moses Malone Jr., the son of the former NBA star. The 6-5 senior forward is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points, and is capable of scoring points in bunches. Freshman center Dakin Braddick (6-11, 200) is scoring 11 points and pulling down three rebounds per game. Rounding out the starting five for the Bulldogs are guards Dustin Braddick (6-5, 210) and Thurman Zimmerman (6-5, 230). A former Clemson Tiger, Braddick averages 11 points and 3.5 rebounds while Zimmerman scores 8.5 points per game with five rebounds.
The Bulldogs are 0-2 on the year with losses to Coastal Carolina (68-53) and South Carolina (82-65). Against the Gamecocks they trailed just 65-61 with less than five minutes remaining before running out of steam at the end. They were 16-16 last season with a record of 11-17 in the MEAC. Auburn returns to action Sunday when the Tigers face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 3 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.