Old friend awaits slumping Tigers

Auburn's basketball team tries again today to break a five-game losing streak against No. 17 Missouri at Mizzou Arena, and an old friend will try to stop it from happening.

Earnest Ross led Tony Barbee's first Auburn team in scoring and rebounding

Earnest Ross was Auburn's leading scorer and rebounder in 2011, Tony Barbee's first as head coach. He left after the season and now averages 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for Missouri.

Barbee shrugs off the reunion, but some of Ross' former teammates are eager to compete with their old friend.

I was very close to Earnest," junior guard Chris Denson said. "It's going to be weird going against him. We always used to trash talk, and I talked trash to him two days ago."

Senior center Rob Chubb was also close to Ross. They were parts of the same signing class, former coach Jeff Lebo's last.

"I roomed with him for two years," Chubb said. "He was one of our key guys. It will be fun to play against him and see him again."

Auburn (8-12, 2-5) and Missouri (15-4, 4-3) will get under way at 12:47 p.m. on the SEC Network. Missouri is 4-0 in SEC home games.

Barbee's focus is on finding a way to get Auburn's offense out of a growing slump. He says getting that done against Missouri will be as difficult as any challenge the Tigers have faced this season.

“It is a tough arena and a great basketball environment," Barbee said. "You can tell they feed off the crowd, push the tempo and play faster at home than they do on the road."

Senior forward Laurence Bowers leads five Missouri players averaging double figures with 16. He averages 6.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Jabari Brown averages 15.5 points and 4.5 assists.
Junior guard Phil Pressey averages 12.6 points and a gaudy 7.1 assists per game. Senior center Alex Oriakhi averages 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Frankie Sullivan, fighting a shooting slump, leads Auburn with 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Denson averages 11.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. Chubb averages 9.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.

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