Big Game For Tigers and Tide

Frankie Sullivan, Rasheem Barrett and Lucas Hargrove talk about the Tigers' game on Tuesday at Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.—Winners of six out of its last seven games, Auburn travels to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday at 8 p.m. to play rival Alabama in a game that has postseason implications for both teams.

The Crimson Tide has struggled at times, but after winning three straight SEC games they could be fighting for an NIT bid at 16-12 overall and 6-8 in conference games.

Auburn is 19-10 overall and 8-6 in league play.

"Everybody is practicing hard and everybody wants to get an NCAA Tournament bid," says Auburn guard Frankie Sullivan, the only contributor for the Tigers from the state of Alabama. "The main focus and goal this year is to make the tournament, and I think we can. We have a great chance of doing that now."

After getting off to a 2-5 start to conference play, every game has been big for the surging Tigers down the back stretch.

"We knew the whole time that we were a better team than a 2-5 team," Lucas Hargrove says. "We knew that in the SEC it's tough to win on the road. It's tough all around. We knew that if everybody kept together and played their roles that stuff would turn out good."

Senior Rasheem Barrett says he and his teammates are aware that an NCAA Tournament bid could be on the horizon, but the only way to get the invite is to stay focused.

"We just go out here and practice," Barrett explains. "We're trying to let it handle itself. We know that if we handle our games and we come out and play like we have and practice hard every day, postseason is going to handle itself.

"It's on my mind," he adds. "I can tell you that."

Both Auburn and Alabama picked up impressive road victories on Saturday. Auburn won at Mississippi State 76-58 and the Crimson Tide under interim head coach Philip Pearson were victorious at Ole Miss 90-69.

"I think Alabama is playing real good right now," Barrett notes. "They're playing well. Alonzo Gee and Mikhail Torrance have stepped their game up."

Gee is averaging 19.2 points per game over the last five contests and Torrance lit up Auburn for 24 points in the previous meeting, an 85-71 Auburn win on Jan. 17.

Gee is Alabama's leading scorer for the season at 14.9 per game, followed by guard Senario Hillman at 13.4 points per contest. Freshman forward JaMychal Green is averaging 10 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Auburn's lineup features mostly juniors and seniors, but Sullivan has become a key contributor for the Tigers coming off a 14-point outing at Mississippi State.

"All of my family is going to be there and we're looking forward to it," Sullivan says. "JaMychael is there and I always wanted to play against him. I never really got a chance to play against him. That'll be fun."

Both Green and Sullivan were recruited by Alabama and Auburn.

"Everybody where I'm from is an Alabama fan," Sullivan says. "I like to go against the grain and go my own way. That's that I came to Auburn in the first place. I don't like to follow anyone. I like to make my own path."

Tipoff from Coleman Coliseum is set for 8 p.m. with television coverage on ESPN.


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