Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tony Barbee’s struggling Auburn Tigers will take on the DePaul Blue Demons on Friday night at the Auburn Arena as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge.
Tipoff time is 8 p.m. CST as the Tigers look to end a three-game losing streak as they play DePaul for the first time in basketball.
Auburn will bring a 2-4 record into the contest after losing 78-72 in double overtime on Sunday to Rhode Island. DePaul, which is 3-3, defeated Fairfield 85-78 on Tuesday.
Barbee noted that the Tigers are excited to get the opportunity to play in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
“It is a very big event,” he said. “First of all, it is a nationally-televised game (ESPNU) so that is always good. Anytime you get on TV and recruits can watch, it is always big. Hopefully, we can represent the conference well."
The coach was critical of his team’s performance vs. Rhode Island, an opponent that was winless prior to its victory at the Auburn Arena. Barbee noted the Tigers were too careless with the ball offensively, didn’t rebound well and played poor team defense.
“We watched film and know exactly the mistakes we made,” he said. “We will be ready to play.”
Auburn’s best performance vs. Rhode Island came from freshman guard Jordan Price, who led the Tigers in scoring with 19 points.
Price said the Tigers had costly breakdowns on defensive assignments that cost them the game on Sunday. “We just need to buckle down in practice,” he said. “We need to get better.”
For the Tigers this will be their last chance to play until a Dec. 11th home game vs. Grambling. Next week the focus for the players will turn to fall semester final exams.
The Tigers are expected to be tested on Friday by six-foot-eight, 208-pound junior forward Cleveland Melvin, who leads DePaul in scoring with 20.5 points per game and is also the top rebounder with 8.3 per contest.
“He is a really skilled four-three man who can do a lot of different things,” Barbee said. “He can put it on the floor. He can shoot the three really well in the post. He is going to be a big challenge for us.”
DePaul’s second-leading scorer is 6-4 junior guard Brandon Young, who is averaging 16.3 points and 4.0 assists.
"Young is a combo guard who can play the one and two spots,” Barbee said. “He is a great driver and can rise up and make threes, but he is a really good driver getting to the basket and finishing.”
Rob Chubb is a senior center for the Tigers.
Frankie Sullivan leads the Tigers in scoring at 18.3 points per game followed by Rob Chubb at 9.2, Allen Payne at 7.2 and Noel Johnson with 6.7 points per contest. Chubb is the top rebounder at 7.7 per game.
The Auburn vs. DePaul game will be Auburn’s fourth in school history as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. The Tigers fell to West Virginia 88-59 on Dec. 5, 2007 in Birmingham, lost 63-54 to Rutgers at Pittsburgh in 2010 and lost 81-59 at Seton Hall last season.
The Tigers have a 25-12 all-time record vs. teams from the Big East.
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