Tigers to See Familiar Face In A New Place

Chris Denson

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers have a challenging road trip up next as they try to end a losing streak.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers will have to upset 17th-ranked Missouri on the road Saturday to avoid a sixth consecutive loss, which would match the longest losing streak of the Tony Barbee Era.

The coach's first Auburn team in 2010-11 lost its first six SEC basketball games before ending the streak with a victory at South Carolina.

Auburn, which takes an 8-12 overall record and a 2-5 SEC record into Saturday's game at Missouri, will be facing the new SEC member for the first time ever in men's basketball.

Missouri, which will be trying to bounce back from a 73-70 loss at LSU, is 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

The game will be televised regionally on the SEC Network with tipoff at 12:47 p.m. CST from 15,061-seat Mizzou Arena.

In Auburn's last four games the Tigers have averaged just 56 points while hitting 35.4 percent of their shots and 23.2 percent of their three-pointers.

The previous five games Auburn was scoring 75.8 points per contest, hitting 46.8 percent of its field goals and 40.4 percent behind the three-point line.

"It is very frustrating and there is basically no excuse for it because we work on it and we do offensive drills in practice every day," said junior Chris Denson.

Denson, who scored 12 points vs. Georgia, said the Tigers were solid defensively in a 57-49 loss to the Bulldogs on Wednesday night. "You can't win shooting 28 percent from the field," he said.

Missouri is led in scoring by 6-8, 227 senior forward Laurence Bowers, who is averaging 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Alex Oriakhi, a 6-9, 255 center who is a transfer from UConn, is the top rebounder at 8.3 per contest to go with 10.4 points per game.

Phil Pressey is one of the top guards in the SEC. The 5-11, 175 junior is averaging 12.6 points, 7.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

Phil Pressey

Jabari Brown, a 6-5, 205 sophomore forward, is averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as a transfer from Oregon.

Rounding out the starting lineup is another transfer, 6-7, 200 freshman guard Keion Bell from Pepperdine. He is averaging 9.1 points and 4.0 rebounds.

A transfer familiar to Auburn fans is expected to come off the bench vs. the Tigers. Earnest Ross, a 6-5, 222 junior, is averaging 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Reunited: Senior center Rob Chubb knows Missouri's Ross quite well. "I roomed with Earnest--I like to call him Ernie--for two years so me and him were kind of close. It is going to be cool playing against him, seeing him again. I?haven't seen him in a while. It will definitely an interesting experience."

Reunited, Part 2: Ross was recruited to Auburn by Coach Jeff Lebo out of Cary, N.C. He averaged 2.8 points per game as a freshman and then led the Tigers in points (13.1) and rebounds (6.6) per game as a sophomore in Barbee's first season as a head coach. However, the Barbee and Ross relationship was not always a smooth one, prompting Ross to transfer.

Earnest Ross

Asked what it will be like taking his team into Missouri and competing against his former player, Barbee said, "I haven't even thought about it."

Reunited, Part 3: In game six this season the Tigers lost at home in double overtime to Rhode Island, a team featuring former Auburn guard Andre Malone. He scored 13 points and added eight rebounds in his return to Auburn Arena.

Ranked Opponent: Auburn is looking to end a three-game losing streak vs. Top 25 teams. The last victory over a ranked opponent was on Feb. 18th last season, a 65-55 home game vs. Mississippi State.

Return to Better Health: Barbee said Denson, who played 28 minutes vs. Georgia, is not full speed, but is getting closer to being his old self. Another guard coming off a foot injury, Jordan Price, played 26 minutes vs. the Bulldogs. "He didn't shoot the ball the way he is capable of, and he is still not there yet physically, but he is getting closer and that is why he got the extended minutes," Barbee said.

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