Coach Tony Barbee’s Auburn Tigers will look to bounce back from a 111-92 Friday night home basketball loss to Northwestern State when they take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Auburn Arena on Tuesday.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST as the Tigers look to improve on their 1-1 record while the visiting Gamecocks will be shooting for their first regular season win.
“Even though they are 0-4 they have been very competitive in every game,” Barbee said. “You have a team that is going to come in here with a lot of energy. I have coached against a lot of James Green-coached teams and his teams always play hard, and tough and are well-prepared.”
Northwestern State stunned the Tigers with a second half shooting barrage. The Demons trailed by 14 points with 16:30 to play. However, the visitors got on a hot streak shooting the basketball and never cooled.
The result was 72 second half points as Northwestern State hit 67.6 of its field goals in the second half, including 7-11 three-pointers. For the game the Demons made 14 threes on 27 attempts.
“Going back and watching the tape, they made some incredibly hard, contested shots that they didn’t make the game before or the game after,” Barbee said. “Our hats off to them, but our defense can always improve.”
Tony Barbee makes a point at practice.
“That is a good team,” Barbee added. “They are going to be in the NCAA Tournament again. They are probably going to win their league, I would suspect. As disappointing as it was to lose at home, it’s not like we lost to a bad team. That’s a really good team.”
Allen Payne said there is “no excuse” for the Tigers to give up 111 points, “especially at home.”
The senior forward said Northwestern State played very well, but added, “I feel we can be a lot better defensively than we were, especially guarding on the ball, stopping splits, helping and everything like that.”
Payne predicted the Tigers will bounce back and perform better against Jacksonville State and notes that he and fellow senior Chris Denson along with junior guard K.T. Harrell are reminding the team’s eight newcomers that the college season is a long one and not to get too high or too low based on one game very early in the season.
Asked about what the Tigers need to do to improve defensively, Harrell said, “I think we have to pressure the ball a lot more. We definitely have to communicate at a higher level than we have and we have to finish plays defensively as well. When we get a stop we have to finish it with a defensive rebound.”
Jacksonville State opened the season with three road games in the state of Illinois losing 72-65 to Bradley, 86-62 to Illinois and 79-75 vs. Chicago State. In their last game the the Ohio Valley Conference team fell 84-73 at home vs. Alabama State.
Darrion Rackley, a 6-3 junior guard, leads JSU in scoring at 16.8 points per contest while 6-1 senior guard Brian Williams is next with 14.8 points per contest.
Chris Denson, who scored a career-high 29 points vs. Northwestern State, has the early scoring lead among SEC players with an average of 24.5 per game. The senior guard matched his Auburn career-bests of nine rebounds and five assists vs. the Demons.
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