Tigers Have Bite

Marshawn Powell

Arkansas (10-5, 1-1) will be facing an Auburn team that is suddenly showing some bite as the Tigers (8-7, 2-0) have won their last three games heading into Wednesday night's 7 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.

There are probably a few fans who looked at Arkansas' 2012-13 basketball schedule and circled a home win over Auburn on Wednesday.

After all, the Razorbacks are 17-2 all-time at Bud Walton against the Tigers – who were 15-16 last season, 0-8 on the road in conference play and then started this season 5-7.

But Auburn (8-7, 2-0) is riding a three-game winning streak as it enters Wednesday's 7 p.m. battle with Arkansas (10-5, 1-1) – who has won six of its last seven games.

"We get an Auburn team that is one of the hotter teams (in the SEC," Razorback head coach Mike Anderson. "They have won the last thee games beating Florida State, LSU and at South Carolina. That's pretty impressive. It shows you when a team gets hot they can beat anyone."

Auburn was 0-8 last season on the road under second-year head coach Tony Barbee, but five of those games were by less than 10 points.

"I think our veteran players, even though we did not win on the road last year, we played great on the road last year," Barbee said. "We gave ourselves a chance the majority of our road games, and that's all you really want to do."

The Tigers have already bested that record this season obviously with the win at South Carolina.

"To be able to get over the hump early, in the first road contest, is a big icebreaker for the young guys," Barbee said. "That just helps build your confidence."

The Tigers – who are 23-14 at home and 3-22 on the road under Barbee - are led by a pair of seniors in 6-1 guard Frankie Sullivan (17.2, 3.4 assists) and 7-0 center Rob Chubb (9.7. 7.6 rebounds).

"Frankie has always been a scorer," Anderson said. "When I was at UAB he has a legacy down there in the high school ranks and coming up in the SEC and playing at Auburn through injuries. That tells you the makeup of Frankie. He is a fighter and a warrior and he has persevered.

"He's a fifth-year senior and leader of this basketball team," Anderson added. "He's the leading scorer of this basketball team, he leads in assists. He brings a lot to the table."

Chubb has become a better player each year while he has been at Auburn.

"He's leading them in rebounding and giving them a presence inside," Anderson said. He's shooting over 50 percent and again being a veteran and going through the wars, obviously they have been playing against some pretty good competition and eventually the light starts clicking. You have got two seniors leading them and they have young guys following their lead."

The Tigers are also getting siginificant contributions from 6-8 junior Allen Payne (8.4, 5.0), 6-6 senior Noel Johnson (6.7) and 6-5, 210-pound freshman guard (Shaquille Jphnson 4.8) on a team that has 10 players averaging over 10 minutes per game.

Auburn has won the last three games despite missing two key players - both out with stress fractures - in guard Chris Denson (15.2) per game 6-5, 225-pound freshman forward Jordan Price (7.2),

"Well, they're going to be very similar to Vanderbilt, which is a mid-tempo and they're averaging more points than we are (in SEC play). They're averaging 70-something (69.2) points. So I'm sure they'll break when they have to, but at the same time they want to get the ball inside to Chubb, who's shooting at a high percentage. And getting Frankie Sullivan open on the perimeter. I'm thinking they probably want to play mid-tempo. And we want to play up-tempo, without a doubt. "

Arkansas – averaging 79 points per game this season - has scored just 51 and 56 point in its last two games after being in the nation's top five in scoring for most of the scoring.

But obviously the Razorback defense was stellar in the win over the Commodores.

"If we can bottle up what took place in the Vanderbilt game, continue to play that harassing-type defense, limiting teams to one shot, taking them out of their comfort zone," Anderson said. "But at the same time getting better execution, even from a fast break standpoint. We had numerous fast breaks that we did not finish. So we need to clean that up and get better half-court execution where we knock some shots down. And let out big guys touch the ball."

Marshawn Powell had 12 points in the opening half against Vanderbilt and finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six steals.

"He probably should have touched it a little bit more in the second half," Anderson said. " We just need to understand that and make that take place.

"…His versatility is very evident," Anderson added "He's a guy that can not only do some things inside, but I think when he faces up, I think he's a dangerous basketball player. When he's focused and engaged, and we saw a focused Marshawn Powell. His on-ball defense. The other night he had six steals, and many, many deflections, rebounded the basketball and also scored."

Marshawn Powell scores past Auburn's Rob Chubb and Chris Denson back in 2011.

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