Top scorers collide Saturday

The SEC's top two point-producers will be on display Saturday night when Tennessee visits Auburn.

The Vols' Ron Slay leads the league in scoring at 21.4 points per game, while the Tigers' Marquis Daniels is second at 18.7.

Obviously, the game's outcome could hinge on which superstar puts up the bigger numbers.

''You've got two big-time scorers going at it,'' Vol head man Buzz Peterson said. ''We always need Ron to step up and have a big night.''

Slay must play smarter than he did in Wednesday night's 60-56 defeat of South Carolina. He committed six turnovers and was limited by fouls to just 20 minutes of action. Still, he hit seven of nine floor shots and scored 16 points.

Whereas Slay scores most of his points on the inside, Daniels is difficult to stop because of his versatility. He can score inside or out, on the drive or the pull-up jumper.

''Daniels can play anywhere from the point to the 4 (power forward),'' Peterson said. ''Right now I really don't know who we'll put on him.''

If Slay and Daniels cancel one another out, that probably favors the Tigers, who have better balance than the Vols. Auburn's Marco Killingsworth ranks seventh among SEC scorers at 15.5 ppg and leads the league in field-goal percentage (61.5). Teammate Brandon Robinson is coming off a 25-point effort at Georgia.

As Peterson noted: ''They've got so many offensive threats.''

Other than Slay, UT does not have a player among the SEC's top 20 scorers. So, the Vols need several members of the supporting cast to give Slay some scoring help.

''I love it when we spread it out ... when Higgins has a big game, somebody else steps up, Crump and Watson are solid,'' Peterson said. ''Then we've got a chance to win. If somebody drops off, that's when it really hurts us.''

In addition to its offensive skills, Auburn also boasts the SEC leaders in shot blocks and steals.

Kyle Davis is averaging a league-best 4.05 blocks per game and needs three vs. Tennessee to break the program's career record of 241. Meanwhile, the afore-mentioned Daniels leads the conference in steals with 2.58 per game.

Auburn is 15-4 overall and 4-2 in SEC play. The Tigers started 15-2 before losing at Kentucky (67-51) and Georgia (85-79). Their SEC victories came at the expense of Vanderbilt (62-59) and Alabama (77-68) at home, Arkansas (52-37) and South Carolina (67-60) on the road.

Tennessee is 10-6 overall and 3-3 in SEC play. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. EST.


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