Tigers Look For Sweep Vs. Gamecocks

The Auburn basketball Tigers will try to earn their fifth SEC victory vs. visiting South Carolina on Wednesday night.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn will try to sweep its home-and-home basketball series vs. South Carolina when the Tigers play host to the Gamecocks at 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday at Auburn Arena.

Wednesday's later than normal start is to accommodate television coverage on Fox Sports Net.

After being burned by Vandy's three-point shooting on Saturday, the Tigers will try to do a better job defending treys against the Gamecocks, who are the SEC's top-shooting three-point team at 37.1 percent.

"We have to run them off the line, especially Brenton Williams," said senior forward Allen Payne, whose team is trying to get back on the winning track after losing games to Florida and Vandy last week. "He had 29 against us down there so we will be locked in on him and trying to get him off the line."

Williams hit 10-14 field goals vs. the Tigers and made 6-10 three-pointers.

"It hurt us against Vanderbilt, that's how they got back in the game in the second half," Williams said of the three-pointers in his team's 67-59 loss to the Commodores in a game the Tigers led by 16 points in the opening half.

Payne notes that while defending the three is important, the focus for the Tigers going into Wednesday's game is rebounding, which has been a problem for Coach Tony Barbee's team in many of Auburn's losses.

Barbee points out that the Tigers are also trying improve at holding leads. "It has been a bad habit with this team," he said. "Look at Florida at Florida. The lead we had at halftime and the first four minutes of the second half they come right back into the game. It's something we are working on and dealing with in practice. It starts in practice.

"We start off great in practice and then as guys, which is natural, they have that mental clock going in their head and they have a sense of how the practice plans usually work and when practice is winding down they start to check out mentally," Barbee said.

"What you do in practice is exactly what you do in the game," the coach added. "We are working on those things, trying to maintain our intensity in practice all the way throughout at a high level so then in a game we won't have a dip."

Junior guard K.T. Harrell is averaging 18.7 points per game for the Tigers.

Barbee, whose team is 12-13 overall and 4-10 in the conference, has four games left in the regular season to try to improve its seeding for the SEC Tournament. "All we are focused on is South Carolina," the coach said.

Asked if he feels any pressure for a strong finish to have job security, Barbee said, "I don't feel pressure at all. I never felt it as a player and I've never felt it as a coach either."

Coach Tony Barbee is in his fourth season at Auburn.

South Carolina has a 10-17 record and the Gamecocks are 3-10 the league, including a 79-74 loss to the Tigers in Columbia on Feb. 5th.

In that game guards Chris Denson and K.T. Harrell each scored 25 points while Tajh Shamsid-Deen added a dozen points in a contest in which Auburn hit 52.7 percent of its field goals and 16-20 free throws.

Payne led the Tigers on the boards vs. South Carolina with nine rebounds to go with nine points. Asked what he is expecting from the Gamecocks in the rematch, the senior forward said, "The same thing they did down there. They play hard, they play tough. We know they deny passing lanes so we have to be able to execute our plays and get open.

"They know exactly what we are going to do and we know exactly what they are going to do," he added. "It comes down to executing and doing the little things."

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