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USF-Auburn Preview, Or Bulls Look To Conquer The Plains Again

Your USF Bulls (6-4)head up to the Loveliest Village on the Plains as the take on the Auburn Tigers (4-1) in a Big East/SEC clash. Game is scheduled for 9:30 PM and will be aired regionally on the YES Network along with CSS along with being streamed on If you can't get in front of a TV or your computer, Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas will have the call for you on 620 WDAE. Here are your probable starting lineups for tonight.

6'2" Soph. Varez Ward G 6'1" Fr. Anthony Collins
6'1" Jr. Frankie Sullivan
G 6'8" Soph. Victor Rudd
6'6" Soph. Allen Payne F 6'8" Jr. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick
6'8" Sr. Kenny Gabriel
F 6'10" Sr. Augustus Gilchrist
6'10" Jr. Rob Chubb
F 6'8" Sr. Ron Anderson Jr.

First off, I'm not going to like that's one tall starting five (Found it on the official USF game notes). Don't think I've ever seen a USF starting five with the length Heath will be sending out to start the game.

To be honest, I don't know a lot about Auburn. They've played in only 5 games this year, with AU's four wins against low majors before getting blown out against Seton Hall 11 days ago. Auburn is battling some depth issues with players either waiting to become eligible due to midseason transfers or injuries, and they've had to play with an eight man rotation on most nights.

But this isn't the horrible team we were able to take care of easily in Tampa last year. This is a team that will at least be respectable in the SEC this year, and they will be led by the backcourt duo of Varez Ward (11.4 PTS/4.2 REB/5.2 AST) and Frankie Sullivan (14.2 PTS/5.0 REB/2.6 AST/1.8 STL). After sitting out all of last year after transferring from Texas has done well running the offense for Auburn. Ward distributes the ball well in Tony Barbee's dribble drive offense and is a legitimate 3-point threat shooting 45% from distance. Sullivan is another option from the perimeter, and although he doesn't hit them as often as Ward (33% from three), he shoots over 7 triples a game. If Sullivan hits the first couple of attempts from the permieter, it could mean a big night for AU.

The frontcourt is led by the lone senior on the roster Kenny Gabriel (11.4 PTS/7.2 REB/2.6 BLK/1.4 STL). Gabriel is an athlete who can jump out of the gym and wreck havoc on most frontlines. He will attack on both ends of the floor and is probably the 2nd most talented post we'll see this non-conference schedule besides Thomas Robinson of Kansas. It'll be interesting to see how Heath defends him. Rob Chubb (11.0 PTS/4.4 REB/2 BLK) is your run of the mill post who doesn't rebound well and clogs up space in the post on defense. His length gives most teams a problem but it should be that big of a deal with Anderson Jr. and Gilchrist down low. Allen Payne (5.4 PTS/4.6 REB) is there mainly for defensive purposes and for the random offensive putback.

Auburn rolls three guys off the bench, and they're led by 6'2" Soph. Chris Denson (10.6 PTS/2.2 REB/2.4 AST). Denson will give the Tigers a little smaller lineup and is an excellent finisher. 5'10" Jr. Josh Wallace (6.6 PTS/1.0 REB/2.6 AST) was the starting PG last year, but has taken a backseat with Ward now eligible. He doesn't shoot very often, but when he does, he normally hits them shooting almost 60% from the field. 6'10" Fr. Willy Kouassi (2.6 PTS/4.4 REB/1.8 BLK) is there to give Gabriel and Chubb a breather when needed and to provide quality defense as he works to improve his offensive game.

For USF to win today, Anthony Collins will need to have another quality game. Auburn likes to play solid pressure defense, and if Collins and Blake Nash give the ball up to frequently, it could lead to some easy baskets for AU. Collins will also have to do an excellent job defending Ward who can fill up the scoresheet when needed.

Our posts will have to do an excellent job rebounding the ball against this athletic Auburn front, and especially to keep Gabriel off the offensive glass. The Bulls have done well winning the rebounding battle so far this season, and if the Bulls can limit the Tigers to only one shot per possession it will mean good things for USF.

I think the game will be a close matchup, and if it comes down to who is hitting their free throws, the Bulls will win. Auburn is shooting 57% from the charity stripe this year, which is embarrassing.For comparison, USF is shooting 67% from the line so far this year.

In the end, I think USF gets their first road victory. Auburn will be a lot better towards the end of the season, but they're still missing too many pieces to compete in the end.

Bulls win by 7.