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Tigers take to the court

AUBURN – Friday night was for fun. Things get serious for Auburn’s men’s basketball team today.

Transfer point guard Varez Ward

The Auburn men’s and women’s teams showed off for a crowd of some 2,500 at Tiger Hoops Madness on Friday night at the Auburn Arena.

“It’s a fun night,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “It’s for the fans. There are a lot of reasons you do these types of events. It’s a great way to get the season kicked off. I think the guys had a lot of fun. They showed it. You saw their personalities come out tonight. Like I told them, it’s real tomorrow.

The men had a slam dunk contest, a 3-point shooting contest and a 10-minute scrimmage. Senior forward Kenny Gabriel tied with sophomore guard Chris Denson in the dunk contest and won the 3-point shooting contest.

Eleven lettermen return for Auburn. They are joined by junior guard Frankie Sullivan, who only played in six games last season; redshirt Texas transfer Varez Ward; redshirt Clemson transfer Noel Johnson, who will be eligible after this fall semester; and a trio of freshmen in guard Cedrick McAfee, 6-foot-10 center Willy Kouassi and 6-foot-8 forward Bernard Morena.

“You look out there tonight and I think one of them stood out like a sore thumb in Willy Kouassi,” Barbee said of the newcomers. “That is why we recruited him, and that is what he does well. I think we counted in the first five trips up and down the floor, he had six rebounds.

“I don’t know if any of our interior players averaged six rebounds for a game, and in our first five trips, he had six rebounds. That’s what he does. He has a knack of rebounding the ball. He has a knack of getting his hands on the ball. He has an unbelievable instinct for blocking shots, and he plays extremely hard.”

Barbee said he also noticed McAfee.

“He scores,” Barbee said. “He is electric, and he showed a little bit of that tonight. It was good to see Varez, even though he has been back off the injury and off the rehab, get that rust off of him and get in front of and play against some people.”

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