"I think, right now, we are playing our best we have played," the fifth-year Auburn head coach says. "This is the time you want to be playing your best basketball. There are some teams that never really at all during the season play well."
Auburn, which is 17-10 overall and 6-6 in the SEC, will take on Ole Miss on Wednesday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The Rebels are 15-11 overall and 6-6 in the SEC.
"This league, there is not a lot of difference between the top and the bottom so you have to be at the top of your game every single game or somebody can beat you," says Lebo, whose team played its worst game of the season in losing at Ole Miss 78-59 on Feb. 4th. Since that game in Oxford, Lebo says the Tigers have played played much better.
He says in the five games the Tigers have played since losing to the Rebels his team has not had a bad outing. Even in the 79-72 loss at LSU, the Tigers had a chance to win the game in the final minute.
"We have played, I think, five games in a row where we have played pretty well so even with the injuries, and not having everybody at different times, it is still one of our better teams since I have been here," he says of the 2008-2009 Tigers. "We have had a game where we played well, or two games where we played well, but this one has been the longest stretch probably since I have been here where we have played well consistently for a long period of time."
In Auburn's last five games the Tigers are averaging 77.4 points per game, up almost 10 points per contest from their previous seven SEC games. Opponents are shooting 41.9 percent against the Tigers during the stretch compared to 44.5 percent in the first seven SEC games.
"I think we have a good rotation and we are shooting the ball much better," Lebo says. "We have been solid. I think our biggest improvement, for the most part, has been defensively. We were bottom of the league last year in most defensive categories. I think this year we are in the top half of a lot of the defensive categories and that has helped. Of course, getting Korvotney Barber is going to help you because he is our best defensive post guy.
"Right now we are defending," Lebo adds. "We made a commitment to do that. Our shooting from the perimeter, with Tay Waller, has been much better the last five games."
Tipoff time for Wednesday's home game vs. Ole Miss is 7 p.m.
Auburn Basketball Notes: Johnnie Lett is making progress with his ankle injury, but is not ready to practice yet. Lebo says that there is still swelling in the ankle and the junior post player is hoping to be able to start running on it this week...There is no television coverage for the Ole Miss game, but Saturday's contest at Mississippi State will be on Fox Sports South at 5 p.m...According to collegerpi.com, Ole Miss is ranked 65th and Auburn is 87th.