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Rested AU tries its luck in Georgia

By Bradley Handwerger 340-2462

A week ago, following Auburn's third straight loss of a game the Tigers could have won, a reporter asked head coach Jeff Lebo if his team's bye week was coming at a good time.

He answered honestly.

"I guess. I don't know," he said.

Five days later, his outlook on Auburn's Wednesday away from basketball games brightened.

After all, it had been nearly two months since his Tigers (14-12, 4-7 SEC) had any time off.

"We were a little banged up and worn out, so we were able to get some guys some rest there," Lebo said. "We had two days off in a row which we haven't had in a very long period."

Now rested, Auburn is back at work at Georgia (15-9, 6-5), a place the Tigers haven't been successful. Auburn is 10-23 at Stegeman Coliseum, and 21-57 overall in Athens, Ga.

Not helping the situation, though, is that Georgia has bounced back from three years of mediocrity following an NCAA scandal within the basketball program.

Dennis Felton has the Bulldogs putting a scare in some big-time opponents, including beating Kentucky at home.

But Lebo's Auburn team has not backed down on the road this season, a stark contrast to his first two years at the helm of the Tigers.

Auburn has won at South Carolina, pushed LSU to within a missed 3-pointer of winning
at the buzzer in Baton Rouge, La., and was within one possession of Arkansas with two minutes remaining in Fayetteville, Ark.

"We have had some road games this year where we've been close and haven't been able to get over the hump," Lebo said.

To get over the hump, Auburn will have to shut down Georgia's 3-point shooting guards and the inside play of junior college transfer Takais Brown.

Levi Stukes and Billy Humphrey shoot 43 percent from behind the arc, while Brown, a forward, is leading the team with 14 points a game and comes off the bench.

"They all have a pretty good percentage from 3," Lebo said. "They get a lot of 3's in transition. We have to do a good job in Brown. He's a difference-maker for them."

For what it's worth, Lebo had his team practicing hard on defense during the bye week.

"I hope it shows," Lebo said. "You never know how you do after a week off."

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