Point guard Josh Wallace knows it's coming. He'll be bumped, slapped and generally harassed tonight when Auburn's basketball team goes to play Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena.
Josh Wallace says Auburn is ready for Arkansas' full-court press
"I know what it's going to be like," Wallace said. "Just being a point guard, I have to be able to control the tempo of the game, make sure the pressure doesn't get to us. I'll be ready for it."
Since returning from Christmas break, the Tigers have been ready for everything. They have won three straight games. They are off to their first 2-0 Southeastern Conference start in 10 years with a 68-63 win over LSU at home and a 74-71 win at South Carolina. But Arkansas and its full-court press will present the biggest challenge yet.
"Arkansas is a different level," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "It's nonstop, especially at home where they'll press 90 percent of the possessions. Because of how relentless they are, our wings and our bigs have to be able to handle the ball, too, and make good decisions."
Auburn (8-7, 2-0) and Arkansas (10-5, 1-1) will tip off at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.
After losing to Winthrop 74-67 three days before Christmas, the Tigers returned from their break with renewed purpose. They lost an 81-79 heartbreaker to then-No. 12 Illinois in Chicago and haven't lost since. Senior center Rob Chubb says a collection of individuals became a team.
"All of a sudden it clicked," Chubb said. "All the guys are pulling in the same direction. We had a couple of guys kind of looking around, kind of dazed. All of a sudden, it just kind of clicked and the chemistry came together. Guys started picking up where they hadn't been picking up."
"I believe we are playing the best ball we've played," Wallace said. "We are going to continue to get better. We just have to keep attacking practices like we've been, keep getting better and focusing on the little things. As long as we keep getting better with every practice and every game, I believe we are going to be able to turn things around here."
Senior guard Frankie Sullivan continues to lead Auburn with 17.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Chubb averages 9.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Junior forward Allen Payne has stepped into the void left by Denson and Price and averaged 12.4 points the past four games.
Sophomore guard BJ Young leads Arkansas with 17.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Junior forward Marshawn Powell averages 14.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Arkansas' only loss his season at Bud Walton Arena was to Syracuse. The Razorbacks have won six of their last seven, losing at Texas A&M in their SEC opener. Last Saturday, they thrashed Vanderbilt 56-33.