-- Expect to see Auburn's Marquis Daniels play small forward, point guard and bang under the backboard with Wake Forest's big men in Sunday's second-round East Region game at St. Pete Times Forum.

"Energy. Playing with energy all over the court is what it's going to take for us to win this game," said Daniels, who led the 10th-seeded Tigers with 25 points in their 65-63 overtime win against Saint Joseph's on Friday. "We'll figure out the best matchups as the game goes on. We just have to throw everything at them and get an early lead."

The senior is one of the most versatile players in the country. He leads the Tigers (21-11) in assists (3.5 per game) and scoring (18.1 points), and he's their No. 2 rebounder with 6.2 per game.

Daniels also is the team's defensive stopper. Against Saint Joseph's, he held the Hawks' best long-range shooter, Pat Carroll, scoreless.

On Sunday, Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis may have Daniels guard Wake Forest's Josh Howard, the ACC player of the year who had 12 points and 13 rebounds in the second-seeded Demon Deacons' first-round win against East Tennessee State. Both play a similar style and have comparable body types. Each is listed as 6 feet 6, 200 pounds.

"I don't worry about defensive responsibilities taking away from Marquis's game. He can handle anything you give him," Ellis said.

So with such a dominating all-around game, which was extremely rare in the college game in the 1970s, why does Daniels -- and the rest of the Tigers squad -- remind Ellis of players he coached more than 30 years ago?

"It starts with Marquis's leadership in making sure that we were a team, and it's trust," Ellis said. "When you have a team that gets along and cares for each other you have trust. Our confrontations are good because of that. Marquis says something, I listen. I say something, the team listens.

"I like that in the college game. Back in the '70s it was that way. I think we got away from that in basketball a long time ago."

Ellis seemed misty-eyed today when talking about Daniels's off-the-court dedication to the Tigers and his studies.

Ellis said Daniels insisted the team travel to Georgia to attend the funeral of teammate Kyle Davis's mother last month, and he said his senior star will graduate in May despite arriving at Auburn in December of his freshman year.

"That kid, who was a top-75 player in the country last year and who could have tested the [2002] NBA draft, is taking 20 credits this semester and took 18 last semester so he can graduate," Ellis said. "He is a hero of college athletics."

Daniels laughed when told of his coach's admiration of his studies. "I just don't like classes that much. I figured I better get it done this year or I might not ever want to come back to school."

As for being a hero, Daniels surely will have that status with Auburn fans if he can direct the Tigers to a win against Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons are the top rebounding team in the country and their dominant inside game led them to their first outright ACC regular season title.

"Wake Forest might not have played their best [on Friday] but they got through Duke to win that conference. This is a tremendous basketball team on that fact alone," Ellis said. "We might need Marquis to put us on his back again like he did the other night. It'll take all we have and a little more to beat them."

Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis says Marquis Daniels's versatility, leadership are at the heart of 10th-seeded Tigers' success.