March 12, 2008

Auburn opens SEC Tourney against Vandy

The postseason is at hand for the Auburn basketball team.

After a last-place finish in the SEC West, the SEC Tournament is almost certain to be the Tigers' only postseason experience. The tournament opens Thursday in Atlanta, with AU facing No. 17 Vanderbilt, the third seed in the SEC East, at 3:15 Eastern.

Auburn (14-15, 4-12) has lost four straight games and 10 of its last 12. The Tigers are showing the strain of a season-long struggle with an undersized and outmanned roster.

AU's small lineup -forward Quan Prowell is the only starter over 6-foot-6 - depends on 3-point shooting to compete against bigger, stronger, deeper SEC opponents. But as the season has dragged on, the Tigers' 3-point shots haven't been falling.

In Auburn's last three losses, against South Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas, AU's offense has been shut down by opponents' zone defenses. The zones have successfully kept Auburn from getting the ball inside, which puts pressure on the Tigers' spot-up jump shooting.

"We shoot it from every spot, but we have to make them from every spot," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "If we can do that, we can make it interesting."

But shooting hasn't been a strength lately.

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