GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers tip-off their season at home with a non- conference bout against the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons of the Summit League.
Tony Jasick has an experienced starting lineup heading into his second season as IPFW's head coach. The Mastodons are returning four-of-five starters from last season's team that finished 11-19 overall. IPFW is 18-21 all-time in season openers and 4-9 when the season opener is played away from home. The program is 0-36 all-time versus schools from the Big Six conferences.
Auburn is looking to turn the corner in Tony Barbee's third season with the program. The Tigers were 11-20 in 2010-2011 before finishing last season just one game under .500. Barbee led the Texas-El Paso Miners to the NCAA Tournament and a first place finish in the Conference USA before arriving in Alabama. Auburn is 73-33 in season openers and 52-10 in openers at home.
This will be the first meeting in history between these programs.
The Mastodons have a dangerous offensive weapon in senior Frank Gaines. The scoring guard finished ninth in the country last season with an average of 21.2 points per game. Junior forward Luis Jacabo is set to make his debut in an IPFW uniform. Jacabo ended his freshman season with a career-high 28 points and 11 rebounds for Stetson versus Jacksonville. Defensive-minded center Mario Hines (6-8) is a solid anchor. Sophomore Isaiah McCray and newcomer Kevin Harden round out the IPFW backcourt.
The Tigers have a starting lineup made up of four seniors and one junior. Senior guard Frankie Sullivan (12.6 ppg, 2.3 apg) is the only returning player who averaged more than 10 points per game last season. The 5-10 Josh Wallace is a very good passer and will handle the ball frequently. Allen Payne and Noel Johnson are both athletic forwards, but play off the ball primarily. Rob Chubb is an experienced big man (6-10, 250) with ideal size. Four-star recruit Jordan Price will make an immediate impact as a freshman and building confidence before SEC action begins is very important for the 6-5, 230-pound rookie.
For the players on IPFW's roster, a trip to an SEC arena to play against a team from a big time conference is a huge deal. The Mastodons will give it their best shot to give the Tigers a sour start to the season. Auburn should be able to weather IPFW's excitement with its veteran filled lineup. Sullivan should have no problem producing points to kick off his senior season in a proper fashion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 71, IUPU-Fort Wayne 60
11/09 10:37:18 ET
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