Jan. 10, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --
Chris Denson's performance at Ole Miss moved him to the top of the SEC scoring list (USA Today photo)
There will be no shortage of guards shooting basketballs in Auburn Arena on Saturday.
Missouri's visit to Auburn for the 1 p.m. game features the two highest-scoring tandems in the Southeastern Conference, all of whom happen to be guards; plus the return of guard Earnest Ross, who was at Auburn from 2009-11.
Five guards. All in double figures. Look out below.
We'll introduce them: Chris Denson, Auburn. He grabbed the SEC scoring lead from teammate KT Harrell on Thursday night. Denson is averaging 19.8 points per game. Harrell is averaging 18.7 points per game. Missouri's Jordan Clarkson is averaging 18.8 points and Jabari Brown is at 18.4.
Bonus: Ross is averaging 14.1
Missouri, said Auburn coach Tony Barbee, "have three really good guards and their bigs do a good job of playing off those guys, and they do a good job of keeping their bigs involved in the offense and helping make the game easy on them.
"It will be a difficult task. They are the 21st-ranked team in the country for a reason."
Barbee said after Thursday's 65-62 loss at Ole Miss that he needed more help from his inside game. That's been a familiar refrain. Denson scored 28 in that one, and Harrell scored 11 in a night cut short by foul trouble. Denson shot 25 times.
Guard play for both teams have resulted in this: Auburn is 8-4 overall and 0-1 in the SEC while No. 21 Missouri is 12-2 and 0-1 in the league.
Now, Auburn has to play Missouri's big guards, which could be a challenge for Auburn point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who is listed at optimistic 5-foot-10.
"It probably affects Tahj more than the other guys," Barbee said. "Chris and Harrell, even though they are not 6-5, 6-6, they are long and athletic so they are not going to be bothered by the size. I think Tahj is starting to get a feel -- Ole Miss had some bigger guards -- of how he has to be successful guarding guys like that."
Ross left Auburn after averaging 2.8 points per game as a freshman and 13.1 as a sophomore. He scored 30 points against Auburn last season.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: