Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats welcome the BCS champion Auburn Tigers into Rupp Arena. The problem is, Cam Newton doesn't play basketball, and as good as he is in football, he is no better than the average Auburn fan when it comes to affecting the outcome of this game.
A quick comparison of the two teams' season so far:
Auburn comes in off a 55-62 loss to the LSU Tigers at home on Saturday, and Kentucky is coming off a road loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. Both teams need this win to establish themselves as contenders in the SEC, but this game is definitely bigger for the Wildcats right now after the tough loss to the Dawgs.
More after the jump
Personnel-wise, Auburn lost just about their entire team to graduation. Gone are Tay Waller, Lucas Hargrove, Johnnie Lett, DeWayne Reed, and Brendan Knox. Luke Cothron, a big-time recruit, could not qualify, and neither could Shawn Kemp. That left Tony Barbee's team relatively short on experience and new blood.
Here is a look at the roster:
Auburn Tigers Basketball Roster
|Ty Armstrong||5||F||Out for season
|Chris Denson||3||G||Minor reserve||180||6-2||freshman|
|Jake Drum||25||F||Minor reserve||215||6-5||junior|
|Adrian Forbes||45||F||Major reserve, good 3-pt shooter||230||6-8||junior|
|Kenny Gabriel||22||F||Starter, 3rd leading scorer, 2nd leading rebounder||190||6-8||junior|
|Josh Langford||-||G||Starter, 3-point specialist||207||6-7||freshman|
|Andre Malone||1||G||Starter, 2nd leading scorer||210||6-5||sophomore|
|Tony Neysmith||15||G||Major reserve||205||6-5||junior|
|Allen Payne||2||F||Major reserve||205||6-6||freshman|
|Earnest Ross||33||G||Starter, leading scorer, rebounder||215||6-5||sophomore|
|Dylan Spencer||44||G||Rarely plays||190||6-4||sophomore|
|Frankie Sullivan||20||G||Major reserve, leads steals
|Josh Wallace||11||G||Starter, leading assists||160||5-10||sophomore|
|Varez Ward||50||G||Year in residence - Transfer from Texas||192||6-2||sophomore|
Auburn went from being a very mature team last year to a really young team this year. Swingman Earnest Ross is doing the iron man duty for the Tigers, showing the way in most categories. Frankie Sullivan is taking a major role as sixth man off the bench this year, and Josh Langford, Kenny Gabriel and Rob Chubb form a fair-sized front line.
Auburn is a weak team this year in the SEC, but does have a marquee win against the Florida St. Seminoles. Every other halfway decent team has handled them, though, and even some bad ones like Presbyterian and Samford.
Still Auburn is getting used to a new coach in Calipari disciple Tony Barbee, and it could be that the FSU victory just two games back represents the light finally coming on for his young team.
Auburn shoots the three pretty well, which makes them dangerous, but they are not an efficient scoring team. The Tigers are decent on the offensive glass, though, and that can always be a problem.
Overall, Auburn is a good team for Kentucky to face coming off a loss. They are strong enough to challenge the young Wildcats if Kentucky plays soft, but not strong enough to beat them at home if Kentucky plays reasonably well.