Lebo Praises His Seniors, Talks NCAA Chances

Auburn, Ala.--With Auburn tied for the second most wins in SEC men's basketball, Coach Jeff Lebo says he believes his Tigers will deserve consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid if they keep winning.

Winning seven of their last eight SEC games, the Tigers are 9-6 in the SEC tied with East co-leaders South Carolina and Tennessee for the second most victories. Both of those teams are 9-5 going into Thursday's night game with the Gamecocks playing host to the Vols.

"They have been bashing the SEC West, but if you look at the SEC East and the West it is .500," Lebo says. SEC West teams have a 17-17 record vs. the other division.

That is the best it has been in the last nine years," the Auburn coach says. "In the last nine years, the East has had a better record in all of those years. I don't know how they look at it and how the numbers pan out, but if you win 10 games in the Southeastern Conference that is a heck of a lot of league wins."

To get to 10 wins, the Tigers will have to upset 11th-ranked LSU, the regular season league champion, who will visit Auburn for a 3 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. LSU is 13-2 in the conference and 25-5 overall. Auburn is 20-10 overall.

Lebo is hoping for a big, enthusiastic crowd to honor Quantez Robertson, Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett and walk-on Drew Smith on Senior Day.

"It would be gigantic," Lebo says of what a big crowd would mean to his team. "It is an emotional time."

He notes that the Tigers have played very good basketball for the past month. "At this time of year, that's a hard thing to do," Lebo says.

Lebo adds that he has a lot of respect for his seniors. "To have the type of season that we are having now, and to have meaningful basketball coming down the stretch, and to have the people here to come out and support them I know would mean a lot to all four of those guys."

The Auburn coach spent his Thursday lunch break at the student union on campus talking basketball with students and asking them to show up Saturday to support his seniors.

Barber is scheduled to graduate this semester in public administration and Smith will graduate in pre-medicine this semester. Barrett will graduate in public administration this summer and Robertson is scheduled to graduate this summer in sociology.

Barber has 10 double-doubles this season and 18 for his career.

Korvotney Barber is averaging 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in a strong comeback season after missing the SEC last year with an injury.

Barrett has 1,310 career points and is 16th in scoring in Auburn history and is playing well after being injured most of the pre-conference schedule.

Robertson has started 119 of his 120 games at Auburn, which is the fourth most starts in AU history.

Because of Smith's academic schedule often conflicting with practice times, he only attends practice and works on the scout team whenever he can make it, but doesn't dress out for the games. Lebo says he has respect for Smith's toughness in being willing to go through the demands of being a college athlete as a four-year walk-on.

"I am proud of all four of them," Lebo says of the seniors. "The three that play a lot have pretty much been guys who started for me as freshmen in year two. They have been through a lot. It is nice to see them have some success coming down the stretch. They have all been components of the past four years to our basketball team. I think their leadership this year has been unbelievable."

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