Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers will close their season-opening basketball home stand on Tuesday vs. Tennessee State, the last game at Auburn Arena for nearly a month.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. as Coach Tony Barbee’s Tigers look to improve their record to 4-1 as they face the Tennessee State University Tigers, a team that is winless in six games.
Barbee said despite the opponent’s record, he has warned his players not to expect a cake walk. “They are playing a challenging schedule so it’s gotten them ready for their opportunity to come here to Auburn.”
TSU is led by 6-1 Patrick Miller, who earned first team Ohio Valley Conference honors as a junior. He averaged 14.8 points per game last season, but has bumped that up to 22 per contest this season.
“The Miller kid is one of the best point guards in the country,” Barbee said. “He can score at will.”
Inside TSU features 6-9, 235 sophomore M.J. Rhett, who is averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds.
“They have got capable bodies,” Barbee said. “If we come in here thinking we’re going to sleep walk through it we’re going to be in for a long night because they’ve been competitive in just about every single game.
“They’ve got a guy who can single-handedly beat you by himself in the Miller kid so those teams like that are always dangerous,” Barbee added.
Auburn is coming into the contest following a 75-67 victory over Murray State. Chris Denson led the Tigers in scoring with 23 points. Junior guard K.T. Harrell scored 17 points and added 10 rebounds as the Tigers were plus 10 on the boards. Senior forward Allen Payne tied for the team rebounding lead with 10.
TSU dropped an 88-67 decision to the Tennessee Vols on Friday night.
Barbee said he saw progress in Auburn’s latest win. “We did some things better. I thought we were consistent again on the defensive end of the floor.
“There are a couple of things we’ve got to clean up--really a lot of things,” he added. “It’s so early in the season that game by game we wanted to see marked improvement in all areas, but most importantly on the defensive end of the floor. A lot of that is transition defense for us. We’re breaking down too much.”
Denson is off to a strong start for the Tigers. The senior guard is leading the SEC in scoring at 21.8 points per game and also has the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio (13/3).
Payne, who added seven points for the Tigers vs. Murray State, said he saw progress from his team in game four. "I thought we played really good. I thought our defense was a lot better. I thought our rebounding was a lot better.
Allen Payne is a senior forward for the Tigers.
"That team prided itself on its rebounding and toughness," Pane added. "To out-rebound them by 10 I think that was big for us."
News and Notes: The Tigers have yet to play a regular season game with 6-9, 250 center Matthew Attewe available for action. The freshman from Canada is still trying to recover from a preseason leg injury. Asked when Attewe may be available, Barbee said, “Well, we’ll see. He hasn’t responded to the treatment as quickly as we would like, but I assume he’ll be back shortly.”...Auburn leads the series vs. Tennessee State 1-0...For game six the Tigers will hit the road for the first time since winning a pair of exhibition games in The Bahamas back in August. The Tigers will travel to Iowa State for a game that will tipoff at 6 p.m. CST on Monday, Dec. 2nd in Ames.
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