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Scouting Report: Kentucky at Auburn

When: 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 11
Where: Auburn Arena; Auburn, Ala.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Big Blue Sports Network
Last Season: Jan. 11, 2011 - @UK 78, Auburn 54
Records: Kentucky (15-1, 1-0); Auburn (10-5, 0-1)

Notes: Kentucky leads the all-time series 85-17, including 27-13 at Auburn…This will be Kentucky’s first trip to the new Auburn Arena, the venue that opened on the Tigers’ campus last season…The Cats have won 12 consecutive meetings and 25 of the last 26 dating to 1990…Six of the past eight meetings have been decided by single digits, although UK won by 24 points in Rupp Arena last season…Terrence Jones set a career-high with 35 points in last season’s meeting, all after coming off the bench…Darius Miller added 10 points and six rebounds in that victory…Auburn coach Tony Barbee is a former player and assistant under UK coach John Calipari.

Nov. 11 – McNEESE STATE (W, 84-62)
Nov. 14 – KENNESAW STATE (W, 68-55)
Nov. 25 – NICHOLLS STATE (W, 78-57)
Nov. 28 – ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF (W, 72-59)
Dec. 2 – at Seton Hall# (L, 59-81)
Dec. 14 – SOUTH FLORIDA (W, 52-40)
Dec. 17 – NORTH FLORIDA (W, 84-71)
Dec. 19 – FLORIDA A&M (W, 76-69)
Dec. 23 – at Hawaii^ (W, 65-62)
Dec. 24 – vs. Long Beach State^ (L, 43-64)
Dec. 25 – vs. UTEP^ (L, 76-83)
Dec. 30 – GEORGIA SOUTHERN (W, 78-75)
Jan. 2 – BETHUNE-COOKMAN (W, 67-41)
Jan. 4 – at Florida State (L, 56-85)
Jan. 7 – at Vanderbilt (L, 35-65)
#Big East-SEC Challenge; ^Diamond Head Classic; Honolulu, Hawaii


Varez Ward

Sophomore, Guard
2011-12 Statistics: 10.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists

It won’t be long before Tony Barbee has Auburn in the thick of things in the SEC, and it could very well be that Varez Ward drives that train. Ward transferred to Auburn from Texas, where he had a very impressive freshman season in 2008-09 before losing the following season to injury. He left the Longhorns and arrived at Auburn where he sat out last season and got himself healthy.

The time away from the game has shown in both a bit of rust early on, but also in that he is much more explosive and physically fit. The statistics are solid, but Ward will need to continue to cut down on the turnovers (33 in just 11 games) and shoot the ball better from outside (31.7 percent on three-pointers) to give the Tigers improved play once Southeastern Conference play begins this week.

Kenny Gabriel

Senior, Forward
2011-12 Statistics: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds

Auburn coach Tony Barbee is a disciple of Kentucky coach John Calipari, which means he absolutely loves to have ultra-athletic, versatile players are every position, especially in the frontcourt. Gabriel is one of those type guys who has grown under Barbee’s tutelage. The senior scores, rebounds, blocks shots (41 on the season) and can step out and hit a jumper, making him a tough cover for opponents. Gabriel had 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in last season’s meeting with Kentucky.

Frankie Sullivan

Junior, Guard
2011-12 Statistics: 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Sullivan has returned to the Auburn lineup after a knee injury forced him the sideline last season, giving the Tigers a scorer they badly needed a year ago. Sullivan has a quick trigger and has hovered around 40 percent from three-point range this season (he’s currently at 37.0 percent) while making nearly half of Auburn’s entire total from beyond the arc. The junior is also a strong perimeter defender and isn’t afraid the crash the glass despite standing just 6-foot-1.

Rob Chubb

Junior, Center
2011-12 Statistics: 9.7 points, 4.4 rebounds

Life in elementary and middle school couldn’t have been easy for a kid with the last name ‘Chubb’ but Rob Chubb has gotten the last laugh as he’s grown into a 6-foot-10 tree who has carved a niche at Auburn. No, Chubb won’t wow you with athleticism or skill but he’s a blue-collar worker who isn’t afraid to throw his body around or ruffle some feathers along the way.

Noel Johnson

Sophomore, Guard
2011-12 Statistics: 1.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists

Johnson’s stats through his first few games back after becoming eligible at midseason have not exactly set the world on fire (he’s made just 4-of-26 shots and missed all 13 of his three-pointers) but he’s a talented player who should only get better as his playing time increases. The Clemson transfer has the size and athletic ability to mature into a big-time player for the Tigers.

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