LSU and Auburn Looking for an SEC Victory

Jeff Lebo's basketball team hits the road looking to break the ice in Southeastern Conference play.

Auburn, Ala.--A pair of basketball teams looking for their first SEC victory will face off on Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.

Auburn, 9-9 overall, takes on defending SEC champion LSU, a team that is 9-8 overall and like Auburn is 0-3 in league play. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.

LSU, which has lost six of its last seven games, fell 72-58 at Florida on Saturday while Auburn was dropping a 72-67 home game vs. unbeaten Kentucky.

Tasmin Mitchell, a 6-7, 245 senior forward, is LSU's star player with averages of 16.9 points and 9.4 rebounds.

Bo Spencer, a 6-2 junior guard, is averaging 15.1 points a game for Coach Trent Johnson's LSU team.

Storm Warren, a 6-7, 230 sophomore forward, is averaging 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.

"Tasmin is a first-team all-conference player and it seems like he has been there forever," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo says. "He is strong, tough and one of the top players in the country. Storm Warren inside and Bo Spencer give them three guys who have been pretty consistent for them--one inside guy, one perimeter guy and one guy who can go in and out.

"Like us they are a team that has lost a lot of key players who played for them a lot, a lot of experienced guys, a lot of seniors that have played major minutes for them," Lebo adds.

LSU's other starters are 6-11, 190 freshman center Dennis Harris from Mundy's Mill High in Jonesboro, Ga., who is averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds, plus 6-1 sophomore guard Chris Bass, who is scoring 3.1 points per contest.

Auburn came close to pulling off an upset vs. No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday The Tigers rallied from 19 points down in the second half to tie the game a 60-60 in the closing minutes.

"Offensively, the second half we executed much better and shot the ball much better," Lebo says. "One of the things against them is being able to score consistently so they can take the ball out of bounds because when they miss they get you into transition with a head of steam when you don't have to take the ball out of bounds and throw it in. We had a hard time. Most people in the country have had a hard time stopping them in transition."

Lebo said one of the positives in the game vs. Kentucky was the play of true freshman Andre Malone. The 6-5 guard led the Tigers with nine rebounds and six points while playing good defense.

Andre Malone is a six-foot-five guard for the Tigers.

"He looked like he belonged in the game," Lebo says. "He did a lot of good things. He was accountable and reliable in spots. He rebounded the ball well in the game also and he understood the game plan going in, stuff that you are not going to see that we see that helps us in the game. He did those things so hopefully that gives him some confidence."

Another Auburn guard, senior Tay Waller, is trying to bounce back from an unproductive game on Saturday. Waller's average has dropped to 11.5 points per game trailing DeWayne Reed (16.2), Frankie Sullivan (13.7) and Lucas Hargrove (12.9).

"I think he has to be multi-dimensional," Lebo says of Waller. "He has to be able to find other ways to score and other ways to help our basketball team. We certainly need to try to get him more shots. It is easy to say and hard to do.

Tay Waller

"He is the number one guy they are trying to shut down now," Lebo points out. "That is a hard thing for some guys. I know when I was a third or fourth option when I was playing, and all of a sudden I went to No. 1 or 2, there is a big difference on who they are going to stop. You have to elevate your game to another level.

"He has to be able to put the ball on the floor a little bit for us and get to the foul line and create some things for himself a little bit more,"?the coach adds. "That is something that we have talked to him about a little bit. He is a very good shooter and is a good foul shooter, but if you can't get to the foul line very much, why even work on it?

"That is something that he has to be able to do and create something and get something on the break and get something going to the basket area because people are getting to his chest, and he is not very big, and they are saying you don't have to worry about defending him and him putting it on the floor," Lebo says.

The last time the two teams meet Auburn upset then 11th-ranked LSU 69-53 on March 7th at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn's Lebo is 3-8 vs. LSU, but his teams have won three of the past five matchups.

Lebo's Tigers will play without reserve sophomore forward Kenny Gabriel, who suffered an ankle sprain on Saturday vs. Kentucky.


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