Tough Test Has Title Implications for Tigers

The third-ranked Auburn Tigers will face a major SEC test at Vanderbilt this week.

Auburn, Ala.--Nell Fortner's Auburn Tigers can clinch at least a share of the SEC women's basketball championship on Thursday night, but it won't be easy.

Vanderbilt, the preseason pick to win the league title, is just one game behind the Tigers with a 9-2 SEC record. Auburn, which is 10-1 in the conference, will be at Memorial Gym in Nashville for an 8 p.m. tipoff in a game that will be regionally televised on Fox Sports South.

"It's a big game for both teams," Fortner says. "You've got the first and second place teams in the conference going head to head. I'm sure Vanderbilt's happy they're on their home floor."

The numbers back up Fortner's statement about Vandy's homecourt. The Commodores are 14-1 in home games this year and 6-5 on the road.

Auburn senior point guard Whitney Boddie leads the nation in assists per game at 8.1.

Auburn, which is 25-1 overall, is 13-1 in road games this year plus 2-0 at neutral sites.

"There are a lot of implications with this game, but for Vanderbilt it's their Senior Night and it's always a night where kids want to do exceptionally well," Fortner says. "We've got a lot of tough hurdles here to get over, but I feel good about how we're playing on the road and we're going in there with some road confidence and you need that when you go into Vanderbilt to play. We'll toss it up and see what happens."

If Auburn defeats Vandy, even if the Tigers lose their final two regular season games at home to Georgia and Arkansas, they would still finish no worse than a tie for first place in the league. If that happens it would be Auburn's first regular season SEC women's hoops title since the 1988-89 team that finished the year 32-2 as the NCAA Tournament runnerup.

"Obviously, it would be very exciting, but we certainly haven't done that yet, and we're not even thinking in those terms," Fortner says of winning the SEC title. "So we're just trying to win the next game."

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