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Auburn’s Bruce Pearl expects ‘exciting game’ vs. Alabama St.

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Auburn goes for a milestone when Alabama State visits for a nonconference game Friday night.

The Tigers are aiming for their 50th consecutive nonconference homecourt victory. There have been 43 consecutive sellouts at Neville Arena.

“We’d like to have a Merry Christmas,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said, “and the best way to have a Merry Christmas is to continue to play well against Alabama State.”

Auburn (8-2) owns a three-game winning streak since losing at Appalachian State on Dec. 3.

Alabama State (4-6) faces a tough task in trying to pull off an upset.

The Hornets will be playing their third consecutive game against a power-conference team after losses at LSU and at home to Southern California. They took earlier losses at Ole Miss, Iowa and Memphis, so they have been tested.

“We figure it out and we embrace it and we just keep it moving,” Alabama State coach Tony Madlock said of the schedule. “It can be (beneficial) if you make sure you channel everything the right way.”

Auburn’s last game also came at home against Southern California, a 91-75 Tigers victory on Sunday.

“We’ve got three more games at home before we start league play,” Pearl said. “We’ll see if we can build on this.”

In its eight wins, Auburn’s margin of victory has been 21.5 points.

Alabama State’s TJ Madlock has scored in double figures in nine of 10 games this season.

Tony Madlock, TJ’s father, is a former Auburn assistant coach (2010-14).

“It’ll be a very exciting game,” Pearl said. “It’ll be a very up-tempo game. They like to play fast. Coach (Madlock) likes to play 10, 11 guys.”

Defense has been one of the keys for Auburn when the Tigers have been successful. On the perimeter, there have been ups and downs in that regard.

“They took it as needing to really compete on every possession,” Pearl said. “Defense is one of the places where you control your destiny.”

Auburn has won all five meetings with Alabama State. The Friday night matchup comes exactly 14 years since the latest meeting.

–Field Level Media

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