Tigers Face Tall Task Against Commodores

Auburn will face one of the tallest teams in the league on Wednesday night when the Tigers face the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores.

Auburn, Ala.–-Winners of three of their last five games, the Auburn Tigers (12-11, 3-7) take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (14-10, 4-6) Wednesday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in a game important to the post-season hopes for both squads.

Often a tough matchup for the Tigers because of their style of play and size, this year's Commodore squad will be even more of a matchup problem because of the size and talents of center David Przybyszewski (7-2, 261, Sr.) and forward Corey Smith (6-6, 242, Sr.).

Coach Jeff Lebo says that the Commodores, who lead the league in three-point shooting percentage (40.5 percent) and three-pointers made per game (9.92), are a tough to handle when their shots are falling.

"Their big guys are their best three-point shooting players," Lebo says. "Przybyszewski and Corey Smith are very good shooters and play the majority of the big positions for them. Kevin (Stallings) is a great coach and has done a great job with this team. They create so many problems for you, especially if they're making shots from the perimeter.

"Vanderbilt is a very experienced team," Lebo adds. "I believe (they have) four starters off of a team that went to the Sweet 16. They lost a very good player in (Matt) Frieje inside. When you talk about Vanderbilt you talk about, obviously, three-point shooting. You talk about skill players. You talk about guys that can pass, catch and think. You talk about the system they run, which is very much like Princeton with a lot of back cuts and a lot of guys spread out.

"What makes them interesting to defend is that they shoot threes and could put guys on the court at five positions, much like us, that shoot threes at every spot." the Auburn coach says.

Nathan Watson has been solid for the Tigers, averaging almost 14 points per contest in his last seven games.

Playing 10 players at least 10 minutes a game on average, the Commodores are the most balanced of any team in the SEC this season. Junior guard Mario Moore (5-11, 181) leads the team with a 12.5 points per game average while Smith is next at 11.6. Five more players average at least six points per game, including freshman Shan Foster's 7.6 points off the bench.

Auburn continues to be led by freshman guard Toney Douglas. The Jonesboro, Ga., native has been rock solid all season and is currently averaging 18 points per game, tied with Lawrence Roberts for second in the league behind Anthony Roberson.

Also in double figures for the Tigers are senior guards Ian Young (14.6 ppg) and Nathan Watson (11.3) along with forward Quinnel Brown (13.3). Those four play just about every minute for the Tigers with some time coming from freshman Daniel Hayles, football player Kyle Derozan and former manager Moses Edun.

Some help could be back this Wednesday as guard Frank Tolbert was held out of Auburn's victory over South Carolina because of a concussion. Lebo says that Tolbert got back on the court on Monday and appears ready to go against the Commodores.

"Frank is fine," Lebo says. "He practiced. Unless something happens in practice he'll be ready for the game.

Tolbert's presence would be huge for the Tigers after Saturday's win over South Carolina in Columbia. For the game Douglas, Young and Brown each played 40 minutes while only seven players saw action in the game. That includes Derozan, who played only seven minutes against the Gamecocks. Lebo says the play of his team on the road and the ability to come away with the win is something he won't soon forget.

"I'm really happy for them," Lebo says. "You don't realize what they did this past game. To go in into that environment and play and pull out a ‘W' when you don't have any depth and our sixth and seventh guy are a football player and a guy that used to be a manager, that says a lot about this team.

"They've worked every day and they've been rewarded at times for their hard work. At times we struggle. We've got to have a lot of things line up our way. It has been a fun group to coach, a pleasure for me. They're good kids, they work every day, they give me consistent effort whether we've just been beaten badly or we won. They come out every day ready to go to work."

Wednesday night's game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff and there is no television for the game. Saturday the Tigers travel to Athens, Ga., to face the Georgia Bulldogs.

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