Top 20 Teams to Meet in Auburn on Sunday

Auburn, Ala.--The 20th-ranked Auburn women's basketball team faces its first major challenge of the season when 17th-ranked Ohio State visits Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Sunday for an SEC vs. Big 10 matchup.

Both teams have 3-0 records and Sunday's 2 p.m. game will be just the second time the two teams have played each other. The Tigers defeated Ohio State 67-58 last November in the finals of the Buckeye Classic.

"It's going to be a great rematch of a game we had last year," says Auburn coach Nell Fortner. "They have one of the best post players in the country in Jantel Lavender. She is a very hard player to guard and only a sophomore. She has tremendous game. We will be very challenged with that."

The six-foot-four Lavender won the initial Big 10 Player of the Year Award this season, the fifth time she has taken that honor. Lavender is averaging 23.3 points and 13 rebounds per game this season.

"They have a freshman point guard, Samantha Prahalis, who is really pushing the tempo for Ohio State this year," Fortner says. "They get up and down the court. They're a very up-tempo team. It's going to be a great game between two teams that are very hungry to continue winning."

DeWanna Bonner earned All-SEC honors last season.

Auburn is led by its conference player of the week, senior guard/forward DeWanna Bonner. She is averaging 21.7 points per contest while sophomore guard Alli Smalley is next with 14.7 per game.

"It's always interesting when BCS conferences play each other because you want to think you have the athletes to play at any level against anyone," Fortner says of the meeting with Ohio State, a team that has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 81 consecutive ranking periods.

"The Big-10 is a very fine conference," Fortner says. "They normally have strong post play and good shooters. It's an excellent conference. I don't know if there's any significance in the two teams meeting. You just want to play the best competition you can play."

Alli Smalley is Auburn's top three-point shooter this season.

Ohio State comes into the game following a 78-71 win vs. Syracuse while Auburn defeated Georgia Southern 71-45 on Wednesday night.

The Tigers are allowing opponents to hit 37.3 percent of their field goals for 58 points per game. The Tigers are making 46 percent of their shots and averaging 85.7 points per contest.

The Tigers have forced 86 turnovers in three games. "That's what we want to do," Fortner says. "We feel like our defense is really part of our offense and that's how we we want to play. We will continue to emphasize pressure on the ball and forcing teams into making bad decisions. That's part of our game plan."

Game of My Life Auburn Book By Mark Murphy

Premium Subscription Signup

Subscribe to Magazine Only

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories