As host for an event called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, Auburn will play in the second of the six games at 7:30 p.m. on Friday following a 5 p.m. contest matching Middle Tennessee State University vs. Campbell at 5 p.m.
On Saturday the Tigers will play Campbell at 4:30 p.m. following a 2 p.m. contest matching Samford and MTSU.
On Sunday the Tigers will wrap up the event at 5 p.m. vs. MTSU after Campbell and Samford meet at 2 p.m.
Auburn is 0-1 after losing 70-69 in overtime to UNC-Asheville to open the regular season.
Commenting on playing three games in less than 72 hours, Barbee says it is a challenge and adds, “Our sole focus is on Samford. We are not worried about who we play after that. We are worried about the Samford game Friday night and then in a short period of time, in basically less than 12 hours, you have to prepare for a Campbell team. As the coaches are preparing for all three, we have the players totally focused on the game Friday night.”
Samford is 1-1 with a 64-61 loss at Youngstown State and a 57-54 home win over Tennessee Wesleyan.
Jeffrey Merritt, a 6-6, 205 junior guard, leads the Bulldogs with averages of 16 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Josh Bedwell, a 6-0 senior guard, is averaging 10 points per contest.
“It is an in-state opponent, and any time you have in-state opponents they are going to be juiced up to play each other,” Barbee says. “It is a difficult team to prepare for because of the style of offense that they run--the old Princeton offense.
“It is a unique style because you don't see it a lot. We have to be prepared. They have some veteran players back in Jeffrey Merritt and Josh Davis. Merritt is a fantastic player. He is a difficult cover because he can play at the four, and they also do a lot of post isolations for him. Josh Davis is a fantastic player who does the same. They are versatile because their bigs shoot threes and they post their guards, which is very unorthodox out of their Princeton offense. We have to be prepared for both.”
Kenny Gabriel, who scored 18 points and added 13 rebounds in the opener, leads the Tigers going into this weekend’s games. Last season he averaged just 2.8 points per game.
“I have been working on becoming a better all-around player this season and I feel like I?have made progress,”?the six-foot-eight junior says.
“Whatever the team needs me to do to be successful--rebound, score, play defense--I am ready to do it,” Gabriel says.
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