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Tigers take hoops show on the road

Home hasn’t been all that sweet, and today Auburn’s basketball team tries its luck on the road for the first time this season.

Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee/Todd Van Emst photo

The Tigers (3-4) play Rutgers (5-2) at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh in the SEC-Big East Invitational. Tipoff time is set for 11:30 a.m. CST. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

After losing four of their first five, the Tigers have back-to-back wins over Division II Georgia Southwestern 78-50 and winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff 76-72.

First-year coach Tony Barbee says his message to his team is that road games are not to be feared.

“The biggest thing that I like to teach my team is, when you go on the road, it is no different than playing at home,” Barbee said. “The court is the same length. The baskets are still 10 feet and there is still the same amount of air in the ball, so who cares whether you are playing in the park or you're playing at home or you're playing on the road? It doesn't matter.

“You shouldn't be affected by who is in the crowd. They are not on the court so why would that bother you? The fact that this is a neutral court game, I don't think there will be an advantage either way in terms of that.”

Rutgers has won five out of six since losing its opener 78-73 at Princeton.

Sophomore guard Andre Malone leads Auburn in scoring with 13.7 points per game. Guard Earnest Ross averages 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Center Rob Chubb averages 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Guard Mike Coburn leads Rutgers with 12 points per game.

Because of final exams, Auburn has not played since beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 5.

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