(Sports Network) As part of the Big East/SEC Challenge, first-time opponents Seton Hall and Auburn clash at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey tonight.
The Tigers are off to a perfect start with four wins in as many outings, but the opponents have been far from challenging to this point. Victories over programs such as McNeese State, Kennesaw State and Nicholls State were complemented with a 72-59 triumph over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night as Auburn ran it's record to 4-0 at home.
As for the Pirates, they too have gotten off to a strong start with five wins in six opportunities, but like the Tigers the team has triumphed over some weaker competition. Following an 80-73 loss against Northwestern on November 20 as part of the Charleston Classic, Seton Hall has rattled off a couple of victories against Yale (73-62) and Saint Peter's (63-54) last week.
Against the Golden Lions of Pine Bluff, Auburn knocked down 52.0 percent from the floor and an impressive 9-of-15 behind the three-point line in order to offset 16 turnovers earlier this week in Alabama. Chris Denson came off the bench to post a team-high 17 points for the hosts, followed by Kenny Gabriel and Frankie Sullivan with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Gabriel also added eight rebounds and five blocked shots to lead the Tigers in those two categories. Auburn has had a different leading scorer in every game thus far, but overall the main contributor to the squad's success has been Sullivan with his 14.3 ppg, getting the job done with 41.4 percent shooting from three-point range which is exactly the average set by the team overall right now. Gabriel (11.5 ppg) is in for 7.5 rpg which has helped the program beat opponents on the glass by six rebounds per outing.
With four of five starters scoring in double figures, the Pirates really didn't need much support from their bench as they captured a nine-point win over the Saint Peter's Peacocks in non-conference play on Saturday night. Herb Pope was one of two to register a double-double as he posted 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Jordan Theodore made it happen with 13 points and 10 of the unit's 14 assists. Fuquan Edwin and Patrik Auba accounted for 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the team survived 42.1 percent shooting from the field. Pope is now averaging a double-double with 20.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, while Theodore checks in with 17.5 ppg and close to seven assists per game in order to keep the offense productive. Throw Edwin into the mix (14.8 ppg) and the trio takes care of a huge chunk of the team's 71.8 ppg so far this season.