Feb. 7, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --
Auburn's Asauhn Dixon-Tatum blocks the way of South Carolina's Duane Notice (Jeff Blake-USA Today photo)
Asauhn Dixon-Tatum has eight blocks in his last three games, but coach Tony Barbee says that that doesn't tell what the 7-footer is capable of doing, or how he's helped Auburn win three straight SEC games.
The man in the middle will try to help the Tigers win another one at 3 p.m. Saturday at LSU. Dixon-Tatum has 39 blocks this season following three blocks against Alabama, four blocks against Georgia and one block against South Carolina during Auburn's winning streak.
"Even though it didn't show up in block totals, he challenged a lot of shots in the middle of our zone against South Carolina," Barbee said. "He changed a lot because they were trying to shoot it high above him and he caused a lot of misses. He doesn't get credit for the blocked shots but he and Matt (Atewe) are doing a good job of protecting the rim and protecting the paint."
Barbee and Auburn suddenly find themselves with the third-longest winning streak in the Southeastern Conference, but he says there's no time to brag, not with LSU waiting in the wings at in the Maravich Assembly Center.
"We're talking about process. We are talking about getting better. We're talking about individuals getting better; guys who are in a little bit of a rut getting out of that rut for us. As a team we're talking about getting better, that's all we're focused on," he said.
Auburn's latest triumph came at South Carolina where Chris Denson and KT Harrell, two of the best scorers in the league, combined for 50 points. They didn't do it alone. They had some timely help from the inside players such as Dixon-Tatum and Atewe.
They helped Auburn improve to 11-9 overall, 3-6 in the SEC. LSU is 14-7 overall and 5-4 in the league.
"I am a big believer that it doesn't matter if it's at home, on the road or if it's out in the street corner at the park. Basketball is basketball," Barbee said. "No matter where it is, home or away, I expect to win regardless of where that is."
Dixon-Tatum has done some of his best work at home. But he's been developing as the season has progressed wherever he's played. Auburn will be looking for him to provide more defense considering LSU is averaging 77.2 points per game, the third-highest in the SEC.
The blocks, Dixon-Tatum says, is a "developing process throughout all the practices that we've had."
And he's hung around to finish most games despite his aggressive play. He's had at least four fouls in each of the last eight games, fouling out twice.
"That has been the hardest part so I have tried to develop different techniques on how to come at an angle and block it and just getting my timing right," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: