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By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari has been impressed with the way Auburn has played. The Tigers lost at LSU Saturday to break a three-game win streak despite cutting a 14-point deficit midway of the second half to two points with 43 seconds to play.
“Let me tell you watching tape of Auburn, Tony (Barbee) is doing … he is doing so many good things with his team. His guard play is outstanding, his big guys are active, defensively the way they’re guarding and rebounding, the stuff that he’s running,” Calipari said. “I just talked to Bruiser Flint, who we coached Tony together up in Massachusetts, I just said, ‘You’d be so proud of what he’s doing.’
“They started with a ridiculous (SEC) schedule that any of us would have been on a losing streak. You talk Missouri early in the year, they were top 10, and then Florida, at Tennessee, at Arkansas. We could have been 0-4 (with that schedule). He’s coaching as well as anybody in this conference and in the country. To keep them going and to be playing the way they’re playing, it’s amazing.”
Guard Chris Denson had 29 points against LSU and constantly got inside to score.
“He’s a guy that can score the ball in a variety of ways. He reminds me of the Chris Douglas-Roberts kid that we had at Memphis a few years ago when I was there with coach Cal,” Barbee said. “It doesn’t always look pretty. He’s got some unorthodox shots, some floaters, some flip shots in the lane that are really hard shots that he makes look real easy. But with his growth, maturity wise both on and off the floor, it’s allowed him to be even a more dominant scorer here in his senior year.”
However, Auburn could not match LSU’s interior players.
“Our little three-game stretch where we won our bigs played really well. The contributed on both ends of the floor: rebounding, blocking shots, and scoring whether it was offensive rebounds, an occasional post-up,” Barbee said. “But this last game against LSU, they did not contribute and that’s why we lost the game. We got dominated on the interior, and so that’s a concern headed into this game with Kentucky.”
He said LSU and Kentucky are “very similar” inside.
“A lot of guys on both teams along the front line that you’re going to see in the NBA one day, so it’s a very similar challenge,” the Auburn coach said.