Tigers To Play Host to Hot Hogs

Arkansas, winner of six of its last games, will play at Auburn on Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn will try to even its season series vs. Arkansas on Saturday evening when the visiting Razorbacks will try to hold on to their lead in the SEC West.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

With the help of controversial goal-tending call in the first meeting at Arkansas, the Razorbacks edged Auburn 82-79 in Fayetteville. Arkansas, 14-12 overall, has a 7-4 SEC record while Mississippi State is second the division at 6-5.

Auburn, which is 3-8 in the SEC after losing 78-70 at Florida on Thursday night, has dropped to two games under .500 for the season at 12-14.

"We are coming off three out of four on the road, and we have to play well here at home," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo says. "Our kids are playing well, but we haven't been able to win. We've been in a position to win, but haven't been able to close out some games.

"We are playing against a team who I think is very difficult to defend," he says. "They can put four guys out there on the court that are capable of getting 20 in a particular night. When you have four scorers, and they are all a little bit different, I think offensively with them it is hard to try to figure out how to defend them.

"They have shooters," Lebo notes. "They have drivers. They have post players. They can score a variety of ways and they are playing pretty solid defense. They really got after us at their place and pressured us. They are kind of similar to us, but are a little bit better inside scoring than us, but very similar in not being particularly big in the backcourt. Both teams match up pretty well with each other."

The Razorbacks feature one of the top freshmen in the SEC in 6-7 forward Marshawn Powell. He is averaging 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Marshawn Powell is having an impressive first collegiate season.

Courtney Fortson, who was suspended earlier in the season when the Razorbacks were struggling, has provided a spark at the point guard spot. The sophomore is averaging 19.7 points and 6.2 assists per game.

Rotnei Clarke, one of the top three-point shooters in the country, is scoring 16.0 a game for Arkansas.

Mike Washington, a 6-9, 239 center, is scoring 12.5 points and averaging 5.8 rebounds.

The Tigers are led in scoring by DeWayne Reed, a senior guard who is averaging 15.9 points per game after scoring 22 at Florida.

Two other seniors, Tay Waller and Lucas Hargrove, are next in scoring for the Tigers with averages of 13.5 points per game. Hargrove leads the Tigers in rebounding wit 7.2 per game.

Saturday's game will be televised on FSN.

Lebo says he is seeing progress from individuals and the team as a whole, but notes it is not showing up in the won/loss column.

"I think it is frustrating for everybody," he says. "You just have to stay the course. The guys are really offensively doing some nice things. I still think we are playing some of our best basketball, but just not enough to win. Thats been frustrating.

"We are sitting here very close to having four out of five or five in a row if a couple breaks go our way, and we make a couple of plays," the coach says. "We haven't been able to do that. It's frustrating, but the kids continue to work hard, and they come in every day and work.

"In this game, you have to be able to put the wins and losses behind you quickly and be ready for the next one. That is just what we talk about with them, and they have done a good job with that, and they have been prepared to play every single night we have gone out to play. We have really only had out of 11 (SEC) games two bad halves the whole conference season so far and that was the second half against Vanderbilt and Tennessee. That has been it.

"Needing to make some plays here, some shots, some stops at crucial times late in games has been an issue for us," the coach adds.

Arkansas comes into the contest with six victories in its last seven games.


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