Tigers Hope to Continue Success vs. Tide

Comments from guard Frankie Sullivan and Coach Jeff Lebo are featured in a preview of Saturday's Alabama at Auburn basketball game.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers will look to add to one streak while ending another as Auburn squares off with rival Alabama at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn is looking for a fourth consecutive men's basketball victory vs. Alabama, but to do that the Tigers will have to end a two-game losing skid after dropping games to Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Alabama has won its last two games, including a 57-38 decision vs. LSU on Wednesday night.

Alabama is led in scoring by 6-5 senior guard Mikhail Torrance, who is averaging 15.2 points and 5.5 assists per game.

JaMychal Green, a 6-9, 220 sophomore, is the top rebounder for the Tide at 7.3 per game while averaging 14.8 points.

Tony Mitchell, a 6-6, 185 freshman forward, is averaging 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for first-year Tide coach Anthony Grant.

Anthony Brock, a 5-9 senior guard, is a starter with averages of 5.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. Chris Hines, a 6-8, 220 junior, is scoring 3.3 points with 3.0 rebounds and he rounds out the starting five.

Off the bench Senario Hillman, a 6-1 junior guard, is averaging 7.8 points per game.

Alabama is 13-7 overall and 3-3 in the SEC. When the Tide has had success it has generally been because of its defense. "They have really been defending very well," Lebo says. "Combined in the last three games, teams have only made six total three-point shots against them.

"They mix defenses on you with their pressing and he has got the kids really bought into defending and I?think that is the one thing when you are preparing for them that has been impressive," Lebo says. "Teams are only shooting 25 percent against them in conference play. Only six made threes in three games is incredible."

Auburn fell to 10-11 overall and 1-5 in the SEC after falling at home 84-74 on Thursday night vs. Ole Miss.

Lebo says the Thursday night loss to Ole Miss was disappointing because it fell into an all-too-familiar pattern. "We have been in games 34 or 35 minutes and right there haven't been able to get enough stops or get enough scores. We have had a two or three-minute stretch where we have let games get away from us at that mark. We have been in every one of them and it has been frustrating for their kids and the coaches."

Sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan, who is averaging 13.5 points per game for the Tigers, agrees with Lebo that the Tigers' inability to finish strong has been frustrating.

"We have just got to find a way to finish," Sullivan says. "We will be in the games until the last five minutes of the second half and we just have a meltdown. We just come down and everybody wants to be the hero--one pass and a shot and it is not really helping our team chemistry. I think it is just a mental breakdown in the second half."

Commenting on the end of the game woes, Sullivan says, "I guess team chemistry just falls off at the end. I don't know if we get tired playing because we are playing so many minutes or everyone just wants to win so bad they try to take the big shots. Until we get the chemistry going, it is going to be hard."

Sullivan says he believes the Tigers need to improve their intensity on defense and "come together as a team." On offense, he says the Tigers need to make sure they get shots for whoever has the "hot hand."

Against Ole Miss, Tay Waller led the Tigers with 21 points as he hit 8-17 field goals. "He took 17 shots," Sullivan says. "He should have taken 17 more shots in my opinion. We kind of shied away from him in the end. We should have went back to him."

Saturday's game will be televised on the SEC Network and the pre-game activities will feature a chance for fans to meet members of the 1985 SEC Tournament Championship team along with head coach Sonny Smith. That group, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 with victories over Purdue and Kansas before falling to North Carolina, featured Auburn's all-time leading scorer, Chuck Person, along with Chris Morris, Frank Ford, Gerald White and Jeff Moore.

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