Meeks, Wildcats a Challenge for Lebo's Tigers

Jeff Lebo says the win over Alabama was a boost for his basketball team as they prepare for a road trip to Kentucky.

Auburn, Ala.--After earning their first conference victory with a home win on Saturday vs. Alabama, Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers face a bigger challenge as they take on a hot Kentucky team that features the hottest basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.

Jodie Meeks, a 6-4, 208 junior guard from Norcross, Ga., High School, is leading the conference in scoring at 25.7 points per game and doing it in style. He has thrown up 159 three-pointers and made 70, a 44.0 percent average.

Meeks is shooting 48.0 percent from the field and he is 109-120 at the free throw line for a blistering 90.8 percent average.

"He is playing with such confidence right now," Lebo says. "His shooting percentages are staggering. He is doing it and everybody knows he is going to get it. That is when you know you are in a zone when everybody is trying to do whatever they can to stop you and they still get him shot attempts. He is still being very efficient."

Meeks is the SEC Player of the Week after averaging 38 points in wins over Tennessee and Georgia while shooting 60.5 percent from the field and hitting 13-23 threes. His Kentucky single game scoring record of 54 points at Tennessee is the most by a player in an SEC game since LSU's Chris Jackson scored 55 vs. Ole Miss in 1989.

Auburn senior Rasheem Barrett knows Meeks well and points out they are friends who talk often. Barrett and Meeks were teammates on the Georgia Stars team that won an AAU national title when they were in high school.

"I told him, you are on it now," says Barrett. "It is at an all-time high in confidence now, but I told him we have to come in and calm him down a little bit and take him out of the kitchen. He is a little bit too hot right now."

Rasheem Barrett takes a shot in Auburn's victory over Alabama. The senior made his first start of the season vs. the Tide. He has been bothered by a groin pull and hamstring problems, but says he is back to full speed.

Kentucky, which has won 14 of its last 16 games, is 14-4 overall and 3-0 in the SEC.

Auburn is 11-6 overall and 1-2 in the league after defeating Alabama 85-71 on Saturday. "

Lebo says the victory over Alabama was good for his team's confidence. "Anytime you win, typically the next couple of practices are usually pretty good," he says, noting that was the case after Monday's workout. "It gives you energy, it gives you enthusiasm, so we are obviously very happy with that W. We played very well, especially offensively."

Tay Waller led the Tigers with 22 points vs. Kentucky.

Kentucky leads the overall series 82-17 and has won nine straight vs. Auburn as the teams prepare to play for the 100th time.

In addition to Meeks, 6-9, 235 sophomore Patrick Patterson is having a big year for Coach Billy Gillispie's Wildcats. The forward is averaging 18.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. The next leading scorer, 6-9, 207 junior forward Perry Stevenson, is averaging 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

UK's other starters are 6-7, 218 junior forward Ramon Harris from Anchorage, Alaska, who is averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 points per game along with 6-3, 198 junior guard Michael Porter, who is averaging 4.0 points and 2.9 assists.

Tipoff for game will be shortly after 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday at Rupp Arena. The game will be televised regionally on Raycom Sports.


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