Basketball Tigers Hope To Stop The Bleeding

Auburn needs to get back on the winning track on Wednesday vs. Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Cliff Ellis and his Auburn basketball Tigers are expecting a physical test when the Ole Miss Rebels come to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Wounded following three straight conference losses after starting league play 4-0, Auburn definitely needs to stop the bleeding against the Rebels, who have been playing solid basketball in the conference following a slow start.

Auburn has a slim one-game lead in the SEC West with its 4-3 conference mark. The Rebels are 3-4 following a tough 58-57 homecourt setback last week vs. Mississippi State and 76-68 loss at Vanderbilt last Saturday.

The Rebels feature two talented scorers in junior forwards Justin Reed and Aaron Harper. Reed, a 6-8, 240-pounder, is averaging 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds. Harper, 6-7, 217 pounds, is averaging 13.8 points and 4.3 rebounds for Coach Rod Barnes, who has a 98-52 record in five seasons as head coach for the Rebels.

"Ole Miss is a tough team," Ellis says. "Rod's done a great job at Ole Miss. He has got a lot of guys back from the NCAA Tournament team. I think Reed and Harper are two of the best players in the league. Like any game, it is going to be tough match."

David Sanders, a 6-3, 185 senior guard, is scoring 9.4 points while averaging 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Forward Derrick Allen, a 6-8, 238 senior, is scoring 8.2 points per outing with 4.4 rebounds.

Sophomore Brandon Robinson has been a big part of Auburn's offense lately coming off the bench.

As usual, the Rebels have a strong defensive presence and scoring will be the biggest challenge for the Tigers.

"Auburn has got a very good basketball team," Barnes says. "They've had a tough loss the other day against Tennessee. I thought we went up to Vanderbilt and played really well, but not well enough. It is going to be a challenge for us. Our guys are looking forward to it.

"We are just a consistent basketball team," Barnes says. "We have got a good basketball team, not a great basketball team. We've played a lot of close games. What has surprised me is that the games that we have won have been by a good margin and the games that we have lost have been close."

Auburn is trying to snap a losing streak that includes road losses at Kentucky and Georgia and an unimpressive homecourt setback to Tennessee on Saturday in which the Tigers scored only 57 points to lose by three to the Volunteers.

Ellis says the Tigers will have to work hard to score their points on Wednesday night. "That is the way Ole Miss has played ever since I have been in this league," he says. "They are a team that plays very physical. They just play a physical game in which they try to defend every pass, every dribble and every situation. That is their style."

Auburn has dominated the series vs. Ole Miss in games at home, holding a 42-8 advantage and a 63-41 lead in the all-time series. Auburn won the last meeting, 65-62, during the 2001-2002 season.

Auburn enters the game as the best shooting team in the SEC at 49.9 percent and the best team in field goal shooting defense, allowing opponents to make just 39.4 percent of their shots. The Tigers are currently eighth nationally in field goal shooting.

There will be no television coverage and children 12 and under are admitted free on Wednesday night.

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