Saturday, January 6, 2007

Auburn Preview

At 6:30 pm EST tonight, tune your TVs to FSN/Sun Sports and your Sirius radios to 107 to follow the (10-4) Dores as they travel to sleepy Auburn, Alabama to take on the (10-5) Tigers in the SEC opener at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

As conference games go, this is a must-win because there aren't that many other SEC teams we match up this well against. Auburn starts three guards and two forwards, none of whom are taller than 6'8". That bodes well for our guard-heavy lineup, among which four Commies (Foster, Byars, Neltner, and Cage) are averaging double-figures in scoring.

Auburn's best player so far this year is Korvotney Barber, who averages 13.5 ppg on .651 FG% (he's the SEC leader in that category). Barber pulls down a lot of offensive boards (second most in the SEC) and is fifth in the league in blocks this season. Since 6'9" Ross Neltner will probably be seeing a lot of 6'8" Quan Prowell (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg), I'm guessing either 6'5" Dan Cage (whose defense has improved a lot) or 6'7" Derrick Byars will match up against the 6'7" Barber.

With that said, since Auburn has yet to prove they can shoot the ball consistently from outside, I think it makes sense for Vandy to play the 2-3 zone that has worked well a few times already this year. Force them to take outside shots and execute (they're turning the ball over 17.7 times per game compared to our 12.7). Finally, we can't afford to take our eye of PG Quantez Richardson, who is tied for first in the SEC in assists and knows how to run an offense. The Commies and Tigers shoot and defend the shot equally well (.470 fg%, .420 fg% defense); they rebound slightly better but we are better from the charity stripe and behind the arc...long story short, this is a very winnable game that could be fun to watch.

This from Auburn Coach Jeff Lebo (a former Vandy assistant): "When they shoot the ball from the perimeter they can beat anybody. When they don't, they have struggled. We have to defend their three-point shooters and we have got to get some to go ourselves."

Five Tigers average in double-figures, including Rasheem Barrett, who will be coming off the bench we think. That means they're all potential scoring threats, and there's not going to be any one guy we can tie down and hope to win by containing him. Again, that's why I think a zone makes sense, at least until they prove they can beat it. Go Commies.

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