Men's Basketball Falls at Auburn, 78-74
Communications Sr. Associate
AUBURN, Alabama – The LSU Tigers tried to rally from 15 points down in the final 12 minutes Wednesday night at the Auburn Arena, but came up just short, 78-74, to the Auburn Tigers.
LSU closed the game to two points on four different occasions in the final seven minutes but LSU was never able to get the game back even and Auburn was able to score on enough possessions to stay in front.
The Tigers, now 9-8 and 1-5 in the league, did not commit a turnover over the final 11:30 of the game and for the first time in SEC play has the advantage in points off turnovers, 18-13.
Aaron Epps had a good night for LSU in a return to the starting lineup with a double double of 15 points and 13 rebounds. Epps made 6-of-15 shots and had one three in 34 minutes. Duop Reath had 13 points and six boards on 6-of-8 shooting in 28 minutes. Guard Antonio Blakeney, questionable for the game after injuring his ankle late in the Alabama game on Saturday, played 31 minutes off the bench and had 13 points and seven boards.
Skylar Mays and Patterson both had four assists each in the game and they combined for five steals. Elbert Robinson III had one of his better nights from the field, hitting 4-of-5 in eight minutes for eight points.
LSU shot 39.2 percent for the game (29-of-76) including six treys, finishing 10-of-13 at the line after making its first 10 attempts.
Five Auburn players were in double figures with T.J. Dunans and Mustapha Heron each getting 12 points while Anfernee McLemore posted 11 and Horace Spencer and Austin Wiley 10 each. The home Tigers shot 40.9 percent from the field (27-of-66), making five treys and 19-of-22 at the stripe.
LSU out rebounded Auburn, 46-42, including 22-17 on the offensive glass. LSU had an impressive 18-4 margin in second chance points.
Down, 57-42, with 12:08 to play on a three-pointer by Bryce Brown, the Tigers began to get a little run going as Wayde Sims hit a bucket and then Epps scored a bucket and two free throws to cut the margin to nine, 57-48, with 10:20 to play. Wiley made two free throws to make it 59-48 before LSU made its biggest run of the second half.
Epps countered with a dunk Robinson scored and then Epps put back an LSU miss to make it 59-54. Kieran Hayward then made one of two free throws to make it 59-55 and off an Auburn turnover, LSU was finally able to score on a Robinson put back to make it 59-57, Auburn, with 7:01 to play.
The teams traded buckets twice over the next few minutes to make it 63-61 in favor of the home team with 5:15 to go. But Auburn got an old-fashioned three point bucket and free throw play to get the lead back to five and Ronnie Johnson would get it to eight with another bucket and free toss to make Auburn’s lead, 73-65 with 2:08 to play.
Epps came down and got a trey from up top to make it five and after an Auburn miss, an offensive rebound and subsequent turnover, Hayward missed a trey but LSU got the offensive board and Patterson tossed in a three-ball and the game was back to two, 73-71, with 55 seconds left.
But Auburn was able to score on its next two possessions and LSU missed on two-of-three three-point attempts as the clock wound down for the final four-point margin.
There were runs by both teams in the first half of play as Auburn jumped out 7-2 and then 11-7 before LSU scored 11 straight to take an 18-11 lead that would reach as much as 26-11 with 10:25 in the first 20 minutes. But the Auburn Tigers would then go 24-2 on LSU to turn the game back to 35-28 in favor of Auburn with 1:47 left before LSU scored the last four points to trail 35-32 at the break.
Auburn is now 12-6 overall and 2-4 in the SEC.
LSU travels to Arkansas on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game on the LSU Sports Radio Network and the SEC Network. Follow updates on LSU Basketball at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.