Auburn, Ala.--Tony Barbee’s Auburn basketball Tigers will take on a 2013 NCAA Tournament team on Friday as defending Southland Conference champ Northwestern State makes the trip from Louisiana to play the Tigers.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST at the Auburn Arena as both teams look to improve their records to 2-0.
“It is going to be a challenge,” Barbee said. “They are a talented team. They return a lot of experience. They went to the NCAA Tournament and gave Florida a very good game for 35 minutes.
“They won their conference last year and they are predicted to win their conference this year so it’s going to be a challenge for this basketball team,” added Barbee, who noted the Demons like to play with a fast-paced style.
DeQuan Hicks is a standout performer for Northwestern State. As a junior the 6-7, 230 forward was named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year after averaging 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Senior Allen Payne said the Tigers are taking the attitude that the visiting Demons will provide a serious test on Friday night. “It would be a good win for us if we can get it,” the starting forward said.
In Auburn’s season opening 76-54 victory over Nicholls State last Friday the Tigers got a team-high 21 points for K.T. Harrell, a transfer from Virginia who was playing in his first official game at Auburn.
Commenting on Harrell’s performance, Payne said, “It was big, but it wasn’t a surprise to us. We see it every day in practice, his offensive firepower and the way he is so aggressive going to the rim. It was good for him to get his feet wet that way, but it wasn’t a surprise to anybody on this side.”
Northwestern State opened the season with a 92-76 victory over Division III LeTourneau University. The Demons were ranked No. 2 nationally last season in scoring at 80 points per game, but topped that mark despite going 0-17 on threes in the opener. In that game Northwestern State hit 30-35 free throws.
Barbee said that he wants to see his team improve its free throw shooting after making 28-41 in the opener.
“I am a big believer in the little things,” the coach said. “If you do the little things they add up to big wins. If you don’t do them they add up to hurtful losses.
“This is a team that should shoot 80 percent or better. We shoot that way in practice. One game doesn’t make a season.”
Senior center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum opened the season with eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. The seven-footer said the Tigers need to continue working on their goal of becoming a group that performs well together as a smoothly-function unit.
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum scores in the opener.
“We want to make sure that everyone is going to continue to play for each other,” Dixon-Tatum said. “Also, when we get out on the court we need to have a high level of communication out there.”
News and Notes: Auburn is looking to go 2-0 for the second time under Barbee. In 2011 the Tigers opened with four consecutive wins...The point-guard duo of Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Malcolm Canada combined to score 12 points on 50 percent shooting (3-6 field goals), had six rebounds, five assists and three turnovers in the opener...Northwestern State posted a 23-9 record last season. In their opening night win the Demons blocked 15 shots, two shy of the school record...Retired and active military with an ID will receive two complimentary tickets to the game vs. Northwestern State. “It’s a way of saying thank you to our service men and women for protecting our freedom that we all enjoy each and every day,” Barbee said...Harrell’s 21 points in the opener was his collegiate high, breaking the old mark of 20 vs. Oregon on Dec. 17, 2010.
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