Auburn Athletics

Charles Barkley danced with Mike Epps at Auburn’s Midnight Madness (VIDEO)

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Auburn might have set a record for the number of special guests that they had at their Midnight Madness celebration on Friday night.

Charles Barkley showed up to take part in the festivities while Ludacris performed and comedian Mike Epps acted as the emcee.

“Getting Mike Epps and Ludacris was big just to bring the energy to the building, and they definitely did that,” Barbee said. “Mike was funny and obviously Luda is a great performer. On top of it the fans got a chance to get an early glimpse of the team. It was a celebration of The Jungle too. Our student section has been the best since I have been here. This was an opportunity for me to give back to them because I know they are fans of both Mike and Ludacris. All combined I think it was a win for everby body. I think it was a great night.”

“I loved it. It was a celebration of Auburn basketball.”

Those last five words are the key. When was the last time anyone celebrated anything about Auburn basketball? The most relevant the Tigers have been during Barbee’s tenure was when a home loss to Ole Miss resulted in this jersey-popping GIF of Marshall Henderson.

But today, you’ll see these videos up on the college hoops blogs all the big networks. You’ll see people talking about the Tigers. You’ll see Auburn getting some positive preseason publicity.

And that, in the end, is why Barbee made sure to bring those three big names in.

After all, Barbee’s job may be on the line this season.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.