AUBURN - Christmas is just three days away, but Auburn's men's and women's basketball teams have business to attend to before they can turn to holiday festivities.
Tyrese Tanner shoots over UT-Chattanooga/Todd Van Emst photo
Tony Barbee's men (5-5) will go for their fourth consecutive victory when they play host to Winthrop (4-5) tonight at 7. The game will be televised by CSS. Terri Williams-Flournoy's women (9-2) will try to build on a six-game winning streak when they take on Jacksonville (4-6) at 2 p.m. Both games are at Auburn Arena.
Winthrop might prove a tougher test than its record would indicate. The Eagles had won two straight before going to No. 7 Ohio State last Saturday. They led in the second half before falling 65-55.
"They are a lot better than their record, and they have been getting better," Barbee said. "They played very tough at Ohio State, and the key was they made 10 3s. That really got them going and that kept them in the game. Winthrop executed their offense really well against Ohio State. We are really going to have to shut them down offensively."
With the return of junior guard Chris Denson, who has averaged 16.7 points in three games since regaining his eligibility, the Tigers earned lopsided victories over Grambling, Furman and Tennessee Tech to even their record.
"Our guys are getting better, our chemistry is getting better, defensively we are getting better and individually guys are getting better," Barbee said. "When you win, you start to get confidence as a team. That is what we are doing, and we want to continue building on that."
Freshman guard Jordan Price is shooting at a record pace. He has made 11 consecutive 3-pointers in the past three games, tying a Southeastern Conference record. He is four away from the NCAA record of 15.
"He has been shooting the ball unbelievable," Barbee said. "As a scorer whenever you get on a roll like that, you get in that zone. He is in one of those zones right now. He has been working hard in practice, and it has been paying off in the games."
The women are coming off a 53-40 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga on Wednesday. The loss was just the second of the season for the Lady Mocs, a team that had already defeated Southeastern Conference members Tennessee and Alabama.
“I thought our team played really well, we jumped out on them right at the beginning and our kids really upped the tempo on our press a little bit,” Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit tough to try to trap them and get them to turn the ball over because their press offense was really spread out, but I thought our kids did a really good job of timing and knowing when to go trap.”
Junior Tyrese Tanner and sophomore Hasina Muhammad played major roles in the victory. Over the past four games, they have accounted for 30 steals.
“Both Ty and Hasina are long, lanky, athletic wings and when they extend, they are very hard to shoot over,” said Williams-Flournoy. “I thought that gave UT-Chattanooga’s 3-point shooters a tough look. It wasn’t as clear when somebody is coming straight at you with a hand in your face. Hasina blocked their first 3 that was taken in the game, and that just kind of set the tone right there. Hasina did a really good job anticipating and getting those steals. Some of her steals come from Ty’s aggressiveness at the top of the press.”