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Game 6 Preview: Auburn Tigers vs Rhode Island Rams

It took five games to get here, but Rhody will finally face a team with a losing record this evening. With the treacherous out-of-conference schedule the Rams have this season, this could potentially be one of their easier games of the OOC slate. But that certainly doesn’t mean Auburn is a gimme by any means. In fact, as one of only 18 winless teams in all of D-I college hoops, it would be hard to classify any URI game as a “gimme”. There’s no better time than today to get that first win, though.

Auburn University
Mascot: Tigers
Location: Auburn, Alabama
Conference: Southeastern Conference (SEC)
2011-12 Record: 15-16 (5-11)

The Tigers come into this one with a modest 2-3 record, with their wins coming against national powerhouses like the terrifying IPFW Mastodons and the fearsome College of Charleston. If only Rhody had those squads in their schedule early on, but hey – you don’t want to overload with ALL the top schools. Meanwhile, Auburn suffered a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Murray State back on the 15th, and come into this one losers of two straight. Those two losses came to familiar Rhody opponents Dayton and Boston College. So seemingly, any time the Tigers have been tested, they’ve folded. Hopefully, URI can provide a similar test tonight.

Projected Starting Lineups

Rhode Island
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Ryan Brooks, Sr, #33, 6’8″, 220
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205

G: Frankie Sullivan, Sr, #23, 6’1″, 206
G: Brian Greene Jr, Fr, #24, 6’3″, 205
G: Shaquille Johnson, Fr, #5, 6’5″, 210
F: Shareif Adamu, Jr, #21, 6’8″, 225
C: Rob Chubb, Sr, #41, 6’10”, 250

The Tigers are certainly a young squad if anything, with two freshman in the starting lineup. The young gun whose name has been popping up all over the place (Twitter, et al) has been Shaq Johnson, who is nothing but a human highlight reel. Our speculation is that Malone will be on him, and as he can keep Johnson away from ESPN’s Top 10, the Rams should be okay on that front. If you’ve seen even a little bit of Rhody hoops this season, the guy that should be jumping out at you is big man Rob Chubb. He’s averaging about 10 points and seven and a half rebounds per game this season in the middle, and given his size, we expect to see Jordan Hare in the starting lineup once again. Chubb has a good 40 pounds on Hare so it’s not going to be easy, but it doesn’t seem that the Auburn senior is a HUGE threat – he has yet to score more that 12 points in a game this season.

The title of “big scorer” for the Tigers belongs to senior point guard Frankie Sullivan. Sullivan has put up 20+ points in four of Auburn’s five games this season, including each of his last three. He averages 20.6 PPG in nearly 34 minutes per contest, and he’s coming off a 23 point effort at Boston College. Another note on Sullivan is that he’s not afraid to mix it up down low, grab a few boards, and get to the free throw line. He can certainly take the ball to the basket, but also has a decent outside shot. If Buchanan is healthy enough, we would love to see him on defense to match up against Auburn’s star.

No guarantees or predictions anymore – this Rhody team is becoming hard to predict this year in terms of their performance. All we’ll say is this – even though it’s on the road, tonight’s game is Rhody’s best chance to get their first win out of the way so far. If they’re still angry from Friday night, let’s hope they can channel it and bounce back.

Tags: Auburn Tigers Basketball Rhode Island Rams

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