AUBURN, Ala. -- Off to a 3-1 start, Auburn will look to finish November off on a high note Tuesday night against Tennessee State.
Payne is one of Auburn's three seniors/Todd Van Emst photo
The Tigers have won two straight including Saturday’s 75-67 defeat of Murray State.
“It is so early in the season that game-by-game we want to see marked improvement in all areas, but most importantly on the defensive end of the floor. A lot of that is transition defense,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said.
Senior Chris Denson continues to lead the SEC averaging 21.8 points per game. His 87 points are the most scored by an Auburn player in the first four games of a season since the 1993-94 season when Wesley Person scored 96 and Aaron Swinson scored 95.
“He is being consistent on both ends of the floor,” Barbee said. “He has taken the pressure off of his offense by not thinking about it. I have been on him now for four years about that and he’s finally gotten it.
“When you are worried about everything else in the game, defense, the little things, assignments, and you don’t focus on offense, the offense actually becomes easier and I think that is what he is realizing.”
Junior guard KT Harrell is tied for sixth in the SEC averaging 18.3 points, and senior forward Allen Payne tied his career-high with 10 rebounds in the win over Murray State.
“Any way that I can help this team,” Payne said. “KT and Chris are going to be scoring mostly every night and then other guys can score too. If I can rebound and help Asauhn (Dixon-Tatum) out, and when we get Matt (Atewe) back and help him, that will be big for us and help us a lot.”
Tennessee State is 0-6 on the season including an 88-67 loss at Tennessee Friday. Senior guard Patrick Miller leads TSU averaging 22.2 points per game. Sophomore forward M.J. Rhett is averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds.
“They have played a challenging schedule. It has gotten them ready for their opportunity to come here to Auburn,” Barbee said. “Miller is one of the best point guards in the country, he can score it at will. They have a couple of big guys, Rhett is a double-double machine. They have capable bodies.
“If we come in here thinking we are going to sleepwalk through, we are going to be in for a long night because they have been competitive in just about every single game and they have a guy that can go beat you by himself in Miller. Teams like that are always dangerous.”
Tipoff at the Auburn Arena is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT. Fans who bring a new, unopened and unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots will receive free admission.
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