January 26, 2008

Scouting report: UA vs. Auburn

What: Alabama (11-8) vs. Auburn (12-5)
Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: Saturday.
Time/TV: 2 p.m./Raycom Sports.
Series record: Alabama leads 83-52.

The Coach

Now in his fourth season as Auburn's coach, Jeff Lebo led the Tigers to their first winning season (17-15) of his tenure last year. Now 39, Lebo has this year's Auburn team at 2-2 in SEC play and 12-5 overall. Before taking on a rebuilding job at Auburn, Lebo oversaw turnarounds at Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Chattanooga. The former standout guard at North Carolina also served as an assistant at both South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Last Season

With a relatively light non-conference schedule and a 7-9 SEC mark, the Tigers didn't reach the postseason. AU finished 17-15 on the year, closing out with consecutive losses to Ole Miss and Georgia.

Last Five Games

Presbyterian - W, 78-65
Ole Miss - W, 80-77
LSU - W, 74-67
Florida - L, 72-56
Arkansas - L, 76-70

Did You Know?

* The Tigers are shooting .519 from 3-point range during their current three-game win streak.

* AU is 9-0 this season when leading at the half.

* Auburn's recent win over Ole Miss was its fourth win in its last five tries against ranked teams.

All Eyes On…

G Rasheem Barrett (6-5, 220) - Auburn's leading scorer averages 13.8 points per game and scored 24 in a non-conference win over Presbyterian Tuesday. He is dangerous around the 3-point line but contributes around the basket as well.

Scouting the Tigers

F Quan Prowell (6-8, 215) - Auburn's lone post threat averages 12.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.
DeWayne Reed (6-1, 175) - A hot shooter of late, Reed has knocked down 9 of his last 14 3-pointers.
G Frank Tolbert (6-4, 210) - The athletic guard scored a career-high 29 against Ole Miss.
G Quantez Robertson (6-3, 195) - Leads AU in assists (4.1 per) and is rarely subbed for.

Bench Report

F Lucas Hargrove (6-6, 190) - Provides much-needed rebounding for a starting lineup that lacks size.
F Matt Heramb (6-9, 225) - Post sub averages just 10 minutes per game.

Analysis and Prediction

A sellout crowd will witness this rivalry renewed with Alabama still seeking its first Southeastern Conference victory. Having swept Alabama 2-0 last season, the Tigers would like nothing more than to extend the Crimson Tide's roundball woes.

Better play from the 3-point line - both offensively and defensively - will be a must for Alabama if it is to snap a four-game losing streak. Mykal Riley is most in need of a breakout performance. Unlike cold-shooting teammate Alonzo Gee, Riley can't create his own shot, which means he'll have to be hot from long range.

Auburn counters with Barrett and a pack of quick perimeter shooters who know how to get open. Given AU's lack of size, Prowell will draw the task of guarding Richard Hendrix most of the time, a post matchup worth watching.

In a tight one, the Crimson Tide finally gets off its slide...

Prediction: Alabama 74, Auburn 72.

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