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Tigers put on a show in debut

AUBURN - Tony Barbee's third Auburn basketball team debuted in style Tuesday night. The crowd of some 2,500, mostly students, roared its approval.

Frehman Shaq Johnson slams home a dunk/Todd Van Emst photo

There was some old and some new as the Tigers overwhelmed outmanned Victory University 108-57 in an exhibition game at Auburn Arena.

Senior center Rob Chubb dominated, scoring 21 points and getting 13 rebounds. Senior guard Frankie Sullivan swished three 3-pointers and scored 11 points. High-flying freshman guard Shaq Johnson was 6-for-7 from the floor, slamming home three big-time dunks, and scored 15 points. Freshmen Jordon Granger and Jordan Price scored 13 points apiece. Jordan Price scored 13 points.

It was a romping, stomping good time for the Tigers. Barbee liked it, too, but he also saw urgent need for improvement.

"I think that is the first time we've scored 100 since I've been here, so that's a good sign," Barbee said. "We've got some guys that can put the ball in the basket, and that makes it a whole lot easier. But I know that defensively we are light years away from where we need to be. It's mainly the new guys understanding that it's not about gambling and trying to steal, it's about being in the right position and being disciplined.

"But we've got a chance. We've got some depth, we've got some athleticism. We should rebound it better this year and we should score better. If we can get to the level defensively we've been, we should have a chance to turn the corner."

Barbee turned the game over to the newcomers - four freshman and two junior college transfers - for most of the second half after the Tigers took a 61-20 halftime lead. He said he saw too much gambling and not enough discipline on defense.

"No question, there is more talent out there, but it's unrealized talent at this point," Barbee said. "We have to help those guys grow and come on quickly. We have a good core of veterans. Those guys know what to do, they are in the right positions, they are executing. But they can't do it by themselves. We need these young guys to speed up and come along."

Chubb said he and his fellow veterans are doing their best to do just that. And they like what they see.

"The freshmen are great," Chubb said. "We have leadership. We have veterans that have been through the wars. We are going to shelter them and keep them on the right track. So far, they are picking it up. Practice is great. Games are looking great. It's going to be a great year."

All of them, Barbee said, can learn from Chubb, who has grown from faltering freshman to dominating senior.

"Rob has put in a lot of work over these two-plus years," Barbee said. "In my opinion, he has a chance to be an All-SEC center this year. But I keep going back to it's not what I believe. What does he believe? He's put in the work to do that. Now does he have the belief that he can go out there and do it? In the upper-echelon games, can he have this same type of performance?

"He has the talent to be able to do it. He has put in the work to do it. Does he have the belief and the self-confidence that he can go do that against the better big guys in our conference? That's on him."

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