Lebo's Tigers Hoping to Sweep Series vs. MSU

The Auburn Tigers will travel to Starkville this weekend to take on the Mississippi State basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--Trailing by eight points on Wednesday night in the first half against Ole Miss and getting dominated on the boards, Auburn changed the momentum late in the first half and took control of the game early in the second period on the way to a 77-64 SEC basketball victory over Ole Miss.

Coach Jeff Lebo says he likes the way his team handled the situation as the Tigers improved to 18-10 overall and 7-6 in the SEC.

"We had to gut it out in the second half," Lebo says. "We were maybe a little flat and Ole Miss kind of made some shots early and maybe took some of the enthusiasm we had away a little bit because of their ability to make shots.

"Our start of the second half was kind of what we have been doing in the beginning of the games," Lebo notes. "We got Tay Waller going with a quick seven points in the first minute. That gave us a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm to defend on the other end where we did a much better job in the second half."

The Tigers steadily built their lead into double digits in the second half and won by 13 points vs. a team that had beaten them 78-59 on Feb. 4th.

Lebo notes that being able to come back from deficits is a sign that his team is making progress. "We have been down in a lot of games," he says.

"We have been down in the second half of a lot games and our kids continue to battle. I think some of that is maybe a little bit of maturity with the three seniors being out there and also having some success, I think, when you have been down to come back and to win some games in the second half."

That comeback gave the Tigers their fifth victory in their last six games. They will head to Mississippi State for a 5 p.m. game on Saturday. The winner of the contest will be in second place in the SEC West. Both the Tigers and Bulldogs are 7-6 in the league.

Auburn won the first matchup 91-76 on Feb. 11th as Waller scored a career-high 32 points. Lebo says that the junior guard has played a major role for the Tigers throughout the month of February.

"Really since the Ole Miss game there, offensively he has been a difference-maker for us," Lebo says.

Waller is averaging 12.8 points per game, third on the team behind junior guard DeWayne Reed's 13.4 points per contest and senior forward Korvotney Barber's 12.9 points per game. Barber leads the Tigers in rebounding with 9.5 per contest.

Mississippi State, which has lost four of its last five games, is lead in scoring and rebounding by 6-9 junior Jarvis Varnardo who is averaging 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest.

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