AUBURN, Ala. – Midway through the early-season non-conference slate, Auburn men’s basketball is still searching for a team identity and some continuity.
Head coach Tony Barbee has rolled out six different starting lineups in seven games, and nine different players have been given a chance to start. Only center Rob Chubb and guard Frankie Sullivan have started every game.
Not much has clicked for the Tigers (2-5), losers of four straight games. Auburn has been reasonably competitive during the dry spell, never losing by more than 10 points, but back-to-back home losses to Rhode Island and DePaul stuck with the Tigers during their 10-day layoff from game action.
“We had things that we could work on and that was good for us,” Barbee said. “We got in some good practices and the guys cleared their head and prepared for exams. We also were able to prepare on the basketball court to get better. Hopefully, this break will help us as we prepare for Grambling State and where we go from here.”
Tonight offers an easy chance to regain that winning feeling at Auburn Arena, since Grambling State (0-6) returns just one starter from last season’s 4-24 squad that finished last in the SWAC.
Grambling has lost by an average of 34 points this year, allowing opponents to put up 85.6 points a game and putting up just 51.4 points. The Tigers (sharing Auburn’s nickname) get beat on the boards by 12 rebounds per contest.
“Grambling is a team that likes to get out in transition. They like to get easy baskets off steals,” Barbee said. “They are not a big team, but they are very quick and small and try to beat you off the dribble.”
Auburn leads the all-time series 4-0 and has never lost to a SWAC opponent in 20 tries.
Sullivan’s 19.7 points per game average currently leads all SEC players.
Carrying 1,229 career points into tonight, Sullivan will move into Auburn’s top-20 all-time scoring list with seven points, and two more 3-pointers (he’s got 185) lands him in the school’s top five. He also could surpass Frank Tolbert, a four-year player from 2004-08, with 14 points this evening at Auburn Arena. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. ET., televised online at Auburn’s official web site.
The homestand follows with Furman, Tennessee Tech and Winthrop the next two weeks.
An Auburn spokesman confirmed Monday that junior guard Chris Denson (a Shaw product) has been academically cleared to return to game action. Denson was ineligible for the first seven games, before last week’s final exams.
Bo Knows Ratings
“You Don’t Know Bo”, ESPN Films’ story telling the shortened yet brilliant athletic career of formerAuburn great Bo Jackson, was the network’s highest-rated documentary on a overnight basis, according to an ESPN release from the Nielsen Company.
The film aired live Saturday night following the Heisman Trophy presentation, and earned a 2.3 metered market rating. That bested “The Fab Five” from March 2011, which chronicled Michigan’s basketball team from the early 1990s.
Fans who missed “You Don’t Know Bo” can catch a rerun Wednesday night on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.
Two former assistants cross Tennessee line
Although Tennessee has been slow to formally announce head coach Butch Jones’ staff acquisitions, multiple reports have former Auburn assistants Tommy Thigpen (linebackers) and Willie Martinez (defensive backs) joining the Volunteers.
Thigpen served all four years of the Gene Chizik era on staff, while Martinez was on board just last year brought in by defensive coordinator and former Georgia colleague Brian VanGorder.