AU HOOPS: Tigers take momentum on the road
Jan 12, 2013 (Opelika-Auburn News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
There won't be the benefit of a packed, frenzied student section when Auburn travels to South Carolina on Saturday.
The screams and cheers that helped propel the Tigers to a win over LSU on Wednesday will be gone. In a hostile environment, Auburn coach Tony Barbee knows his team's first road conference game will be much different than the Tigers' SEC opener.
But with a team that has won two straight games and is 1-0 in the conference for the first time in six years, Barbee enters the weekend with confidence.
"The guys are really starting to buy into what we want them to do offensively and defensively, and the main part about competing and playing hard at all times," Barbee said. "We are excited about going on the road. Having that LSU victory at home gives us a lot of confidence going on the road.
"We have been competing and fighting and giving it everything we have for 40 minutes. We are looking forward to a tough road test. It is always tough going on the road, especially in league play. We are excited about it."
The Tigers (7-7, 1-0) will tip off with the Gamecocks (10-4, 1-0) at 12:47 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network. They're hoping to get their third straight win, which would match a season-long streak.
South Carolina is under new leadership with coach Frank Martin, who previously led Kansas State. Watching film of the Gamecocks, Barbee said he's been impressed with what he sees.
"That new coaching staff has them playing really hard," Barbee said. "They are very aggressive defensively. They really get after it. They really rebound the ball, so it's going to be a tough task going into Columbia and trying to play with them."
Auburn has been playing its best basketball of the season, something Barbee admitted moments after Wednesday's win.
But he also knows playing quality basketball on the road is another challenge, something Auburn must prove it can do.
"We've got improvement in a lot of different areas, but when you start league play you're not going to be playing your best basketball," Barbee said. "You want that to start about mid-conference season. You want to be your best at that moment. We are. Another thing we talk about is in league play, you've got to take care of the home court. All we did is, kind of, hold serve. We've got to try to go on the road and steal one."
Auburn (7-7, 1-0) at South Carolina (10-4, 1-0)
When: Saturday, 12:47 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena (18,000); Columbia, S.C.
Radio: WKKR (97.7 FM)
TV: SEC Network (Channel 12)
Projected starters, Auburn: G Frankie Sullivan, 6-1, Sr. (17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Josh Wallace, 5-10, Sr. (3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg); G Shaq Johnson, 6-5, Fr. (4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg); F Allen Payne, 6-6, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Rob Chubb, 6-10, Sr. (9.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
Projected starters, South Carolina: G Bruce Ellington, 5-9, Jr. (10 ppg, 2.4 rpg); G Eric Smith, 5-11, Jr. (5.9 ppg, 4.3 apg); G Brian Richardson, 6-4, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg); F Lakeem Jackson, 6-5, Sr. (9.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg); F Mindaugas Kacinas, 6-7, Fr. (7.7 ppg, 5.5rpg)
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