Barbee expects Tigers to fight back

For Auburn's basketball team, it's time to start over.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee says he expects Tigers to come back hard

A week ago, the Tigers seemed to be on the move. Even a double-overtime loss at Arkansas did little to dampen the optimism generated from three straight wins and a 2-0 start in the Southeastern Conference.

But then came Saturday and a full-house at Auburn Arena. Kentucky brought a harsh dose of reality to town, romping to a 75-53 victory.

Auburn players said when it was over that they played "scared," unable to deal with a big game in their own arena. Tonight, they'll have a different kind of challenge when they play Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym in Nashville.

The Tigers (8-9, 2-2) and the Commodores (7-9, 1-3) meet at 7 p.m.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee said Monday he expects his team to come back hard from the most disappointing night of the season.

“I want to know if we are the team that against Florida State, LSU and South Carolina, when we were in a hole and continued to fight and throw punches?” Barbee said. “Or are we the team that, against Arkansas and Kentucky, when it got tough, we let go of the rope? Which team are we?

“If practice is an indication, we’re the team that’s throwing punches.”

Barbee can't pay attention to Vanderbilt's struggles.

"Vanderbilt is a good team, but they are a team like us, in transition with a lot of young players," Barbee said. "They have been playing well as of late. They have been shooting the ball well. It is no secret that we have to guard that 3-point line against that team. They all shoot it well.

"It's going to be a difficult matchup, especially on the road at Vandy where they play well."

The Commodores ended a three-game SEC losing streak by winning at South Carolina 58-51 on Saturday, limiting the Gamecocks to 23.7 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-21 (.190) from 3-point range. They lost a controversial decision to Kentucky at home in a game decided in the final seconds. They took nationally ranked Ole Miss to overtime on the road.

Junior guard Chris Denson, who had missed four games, and freshman guard Jordan Price, who had missed three, returned to the court in limited action against Kentucky. They'll be more significant parts of the plan tonight.

Frankie Sullivan continues to lead Auburn with 17.4 points per game. He averages 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Denson averages 12.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Center Rob Chubb averages 10.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Sophomore forward Kedren Johnson leads Vanderbilt with 15.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

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