Tipoff is 7 p.m. CST as the Tigers look to improve their SEC basketball record to 3-0. Arkansas comes into the game 1-1 in league play and 10-5 overall. The Razorbacks are 9-1 in games played on their homecourt in Fayetteville this season with the only loss coming to sixth-ranked Syracuse (91-82) on Nov. 30th in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
Auburn's all-time record at the 19,200-seat arena is 2-17. Last year the Razorbacks defeated Auburn 56-53 in Fayetteville.
Auburn center Rob Chubb, who will be making his fourth and final trip to the arena, says the Razorbacks enjoy a strong homecourt advantage. "Most people don't understand, but that's one of the more brutal crowds," he says.
Barbee will be counting on his veterans like Chubb and fellow seniors Josh Wallace and Frankie Sullivan to give the Tigers a chance to win. Sullivan and Wallace, Auburn's primary ball-handlers, will be tested by the Razorbacks' full-court pressure defense, which Barbee says Arkansas plays with more gusto in home games in front of its lively home crowd than it does on the road.
Barbee notes his Tigers have faced tough, pressure defenses in their last four games vs. Illinois, Florida State, LSU and South Carolina. "Those are teams that really, really try to pressure and turn you over," he says. "We have handled the pressure well in spots and we haven't in other spots. We just have to become more consistent against it."
Another guard who will be counted on to deal with the pressure, six-foot-three freshman Brian Greene, will be making his first appearance for the Tigers in Fayetteville. Greene is coming off his best performance of the season as he scored 14 points off the bench in Auburn's 74-71 road win on Saturday vs. South Carolina.
"I heard a lot about Arkansas and how they pressure and how tough they play," says Greene, who was a perfect six-of-six from the field with his shooting vs. South Carolina.
Prior to his last game Greene's high point total of the season was eight vs. Rhode Island and going into Wednesday's contest the freshman has scored just 36 points in Auburn's 15 games. However, with guards Chris Denson and Jordan Price recovering from injuries, Greene's playing time has increased and so has his offensive confidence.
"I've been practicing really hard, just competing," he says. "I've been making shots in practice. It was just a matter of time before they started falling in the game."
Brian Greene is shown in action in Auburn's last game.
Auburn's guards will have to deal with one of the SEC's top players, 6-3, 180 sophomore B.J. Young, who is averaging 17.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
Forward Marshawn Powell, a 6-7, 240 junior, is averaging 14.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Razorbacks.
B.J. Greene is a key performer Coach Mike Anderson's Razorbacks.
On Saturday the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores had no answer for the Razorbacks' pressure defense as they fell 56-33 at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas forced 26 turnovers and limited the visitors to 25 percent shooting. Powell was particularly impressive in that game as he scored 17 points while adding six rebounds and six steals.
Auburn will be counting on rebounding from Chubb, who is coming off a double-double performance in which he scored 16 points and pulled in 10 rebounds vs. the Gamecocks. He will likely be matched against 6-10, 245 sophomore center Hunter Mickelson, who is averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Chubb hit 8-9 free throws vs. South Carolina, an area of his game he has focused on improving. "That was something I was harping on in practice so it was a good feeling to see it pay off in a game, especially on the road," he says.
The senior adds the Tigers need to play with high intensity on both ends of the court, something he says they have been doing the last four games since suffering an embarrassing homecourt loss to Winthrop on Dec. 22nd.
"Winthrop was kind of a shock and so all of a sudden everybody is starting to come together and get on the same page and chemistry is starting to build," he says.
The Tigers, who are 8-7 overall, are expected to go with their three-guard lineup featuring freshman Shaquille Johnson (4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds) as a starter along with Wallace and Sullivan, who is second among SEC scorers at 17.2 points per game. Junior Allen Payne (8.4 points, 5.0 rebounds) is scheduled to start at forward for the Tigers. Wallace is averaging 3.3 points and 3.4 assists.
In addition to Young, Powell and Mickelson, the Razorbacks are expected to start 6-3 junior Ricky Scott (4.9 points, 2.2 rebounds) and 6-2 junior Fred Gulley (1.4 points, 1.7) rebounds. Junior Mardracus Wade, a 6-2 guard, averages 7.4 points off the bench and 6-7 junior forward Coty Clark is averaging 6.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.
The game will be televised regionally on the SEC Network. Arkansas has won four straight times in the series vs. the Tigers, which the Razorbacks lead 28-16. Auburn is looking to win a third straight league game for the first time since winning five straight in 2009.