A conversation with Auburn coach Jeff Lebo

Just got off the one-on-one teleconference with Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo about Saturday’s matchup with GW and he had a few interesting things to say. He praised the Colonials’ athleticism, saying they will be his team’s toughest test in that regard to date in this young season. Lebo cited GW’s varied defensive repertoire as a point of concern heading into the game, specifically their man-to-man pressure.

The marquee matchup in terms of personnel should be the inside battle between GW’s Rob Diggs and Auburn’s Korvotney Barber. The 6-foot-7, 225 pound Barber is, like Diggs, not your traditional post player, a similarity Lebo was quick to point out. He described both players as “quick” and “bouncy” and said their production comes from athleticism and use of body angles rather than traditional back-to-the-basket post play.

Barber faired well in last year’s meeting between the two at the BB&T Classic in D.C., scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds. But Lebo said this year’s game should be different from the last, as both teams have key differences in personnel. The Tigers employed a pair of guards – Quantez Robertson and Frank Tolbert – at the “four” spot in the lineup, allowing them to spread the Colonials’ defense and give Barber more room to operate inside.

Lebo pointed to GW’s lack of a true point guard as key to their 21 turnovers in last December’s matchup, but was quick to point out that the Colonials have taken better care of the ball this season with freshman Tony Taylor and returning redshirt sophomore Travis King manning the point. One potential matchup problem for most GW opponents is junior forward Damian Hollis, who Lebo plans to guard with 6-foot-6 junior Lucas Hargrove.

Lastly, Lebo said he was disappointed in his team’s lack of execution in Wednesday’s 78-74 home loss to Mercer. He listed a number of missed scoring opportunities – alley-oops, dunks, layups – as crucial to the outcome. He was also disappointed in the game’s rebounding tilt (46-21 in favor of Mercer) and his team’s free-throw shooting (16 of 28).

It is interesting that GW struggled in both departments last night as well, getting out-rebounded by a 46-31 margin and converting just 20 of 35 shots from the charity stripe. They were still able to walk away with a double-digit victory over an overmatched Binghamton team, but something has to give in these departments in Saturday’s tilt between the two teams.

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