Auburn, Ala.--Following a break of eight days between games, the longest for the Tigers this season, Coach Tony Barbee’s Tigers will take the court for a 7 p.m. home game on Wednesday vs. Georgia Southern.
Both teams come into the contest at the Auburn Arena with four victories. Auburn has lost seven times and Georgia Southern has nine losses.
The Tigers will look to put together back-to-back wins for the second time this year. Auburn defeated USC-Upstate 68-54 on Dec. 21st.
The Eagles also won their last game, edging Georgia State 74-72 in overtime on Dec. 22nd.
“Georgia Southern is an athletic team which likes to get up and down the court,” Barbee says. “They run a lot of pick and rolls. They look to trap and try to create turnovers off their defense in halfcourt and their press.
“Point guard Ben Drayton and Eric Ferguson are very good players,” Barbee adds. “Ferguson is six-foot-seven three-four (small forward-power forward) who can do a little bit of everything. He can put it on the floor. He can go inside and post up.”
Drayton, who scored 19 points vs. Georgia State, leads the Eagles in scoring with 15 points per game and the 5-10 junior is averaging 3.5 assists. Ferguson is a freshman who played his high school ball in Statesboro, the home of Georgia Southern. He is averaging 14.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Georgia Southern, which is coached by former Auburn assistant Charlton Young, has two players coming off the bench to average double figures in scoring. Rory Spencer, a 6-8 senior, is averaging 13.5 points per game and 6-2 freshman guard Jelani Hewitt is averaging 10.8 points.
“They are a balanced scoring team,” Barbee says. “They play nine guys 13 minutes or more and seven of those play 20 minutes or more. They play a lot of guys who play a lot of minutes.
“They share the ball well,” Barbee says. “They run you through a lot of ball screens to try to get you to make mistakes. They try to pick you apart from there. That is why they are so balanced. They have five guys who average nine points or more. They make it where you can’t stop just one guy because a lot of guys do a lot of different things a lot of different ways.”
Earnest Ross shoots for the Tigers.
Sophomore guards Earnest Ross (11.8 points per game) and Andre Malone (11.7) lead the Tigers in scoring. Neither player is scheduled to start vs. Georgia Southern.
Barbee’s projected starting lineup features junior forward Kenny Gabriel and junior guard Frankie Sullivan as the top scorers in that group averaging 7.7 points per game.
The other expected starters are freshman forward Allen Payne (6.1 points per game), sophomore point guard Josh Wallace (5.0 points per game) and freshman guard Josh Langford (4.4 points per game).
Auburn leads the series 4-0 including a 95-75 victory last season that featured a double-double from Brendon Knox, who scored 18 points and pulled in 11 rebounds.
In Auburn’s victory over USC-Upstate, Ross scored 16 points and Sullivan added 14 points with six assists, five rebounds and five steals.
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