Tigers open SEC play tonight

AUBURN - It's Southeastern Conference time for Auburn's basketball team, and third-year coach Tony Barbee says his team is ready.

Frankie Sullivan leads Auburn in scoring/Todd Van Emst photo

The Tigers (6-7) take on LSU (9-2) tonight at Auburn Arena. Tipoff is set for 8. The game will be televised by CSS.

“We are excited about starting league play at home against a very good LSU team," Barbee said.

"We are excited that our students are going to be back. The crowd is going to be energized. The student section is going to be packed and going crazy. We are excited about the opportunities that the league presents, but it also presents lot of challenges obviously with the addition of the two new teams."

First-year coach Johnny Jones, a former LSU player, says he welcomes the challenge of visiting Auburn Arena for the first time. The Bayou Bengals travel to Florida on Saturday

"I look forward to it," Jones said. "I think our guys are up to the task, and I think they are chomping at the bit to get it started as well."

Auburn had its most impressive victory of the season a week ago, ending defending ACC champion Florida State's four-game winning streak with a 78-72 victory. Four days earlier, the Tigers fell just short of a major upset in an 81-79 loss to Illinois in Chicago.

"We seem to be playing our best basketball of the year," Barbee said. "We are hoping we are ready for it."

Auburn will be without two of its top offensive threats. Junior guard Chris Denson and freshman guard Jordan Price are out with stress fractures.

Senior Frankie Sullivan leads the way for Auburn with 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Center Rob Chubb averages 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. In the victory over Florida State, junior Allen Payne softened the blow of losing Denson and Price by scoring 17 points and getting seven rebounds.

Junior college transfer Shavon Coleman, a 6-foot-5 guard, leads LSU with 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Johnny O'Bryant III, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, averages 12 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Junior guard Andre Stringer averages 11.7 points per game and sophomore guard Anthony Hickey 10.7.

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