LSU's Randy Onwuasor scored a season-best 14 points.
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Men's Basketball Falls at Auburn, 95-70

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

 AUBURN, Alabama – The 19th-ranked Auburn Tigers hit their five three-point attempts and got a tip-in on a sixth to blitz LSU at the start of Saturday’s Southeastern Conference game and it was a start that took all the air out of the Tigers as Auburn won easily by a score of 95-70 before another sold-out crowd at the Auburn Arena.

The Auburn Tigers now have a full game up on the lead in the SEC at 19-2 and 7-1 overall while LSU dropped to 12-8 and 3-5 in the league. The LSU Tigers must get ready for another difficult road game on Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville against the University of Tennessee (5:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network, LSU Sports Radio Network).

The five threes and the tip-in of the missed three-pointer put the Auburn Tigers up 17-6 and Auburn would add two more layups and a three to go up 24-6 just seven minutes into the game. LSU had actually started okay as Duop Reath put LSU up 2-0 and 4-3 with Skylar Mays scoring to make it 6-6 before LSU went almost 5:30 without a point.

Reath was a bright spot in the scoring with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four made free throws. Randy Onwuasor hit 4-of-6 field goals, including both trey attempts and four free throws to scored 14 points with two assists, three steals and no turnovers in 28 minutes, while Mays finished with 10 points and five assists and just one turnover in 33 minutes.

Auburn was led by Mustapha Heron with 21 points and nine rebounds. Heron hit 8-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 three pointers. Dessean Murray had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Bryce Brown hit five treys to score 15 points, Chuma Okeke 14 points and Jared Harper 11.

Auburn shot 54.1 percent for the game and 14-of-32 from the arc, including 11-of-23 in the first half. In the opening half LSU had just 10 rebounds and Auburn had 20 total, including 10 offensive. LSU shot 43.1 percent for the game and 4-of-18 from the arc (22.2%).

Auburn would build 51-32 halftime advantage and outscore LSU 44-38 in the second half.

POST-GAME QUOTES
LSU Head Coach Will Wade

Opening statement…
“What do you guys want to talk about? We got whipped every way you can get whipped. Auburn competed a lot harder than we did. Auburn got going from three. I think Mustapha (Heron) hit five 3s all year in conference play, and he hit five today. I think he hit a couple against Arkansas early in the same type of start. That is why Auburn has a great chance to win the league, and there is a little gap between where they are and we are right now. Auburn played fantastic. Coach Pearl had them ready to play. The crowd and the environment was tremendous. We did not respond like we needed to.

On if it was lack of effort or not executing the game plan…
“It was a little bit of everything. We couldn’t get into our defense. We were going to change every possession, and we couldn’t get into them. When they start hitting 3s like that, then the scoreboard adds up quickly. We took quick shots. At halftime, we had 10 rebounds total, and Auburn had 10 offensive rebounds. I think it was 20 to 10 at halftime in rebounds. That is an effort issue.”

On Waters…
“Auburn bottled him up. They let our other guys drive down the lane. They were trying to block shots when they happened. They really collapsed on the lane when Waters had the ball. He didn’t find the open guy and make the simple play.”

On Desean Murray…
“Oh gosh - I haven’t seen him since he was at Presbyterian. I saw him when he was in high school in Charlotte when I was at VCU and Chattanooga. I think he played 20 minutes tonight and had 18 points, 5 assists, 6 offensive rebounds and 8 overall rebounds. He has an unbelievable motor and is always around the ball. He goes and gets the ball. I like a lot of Auburn’s players. Samir (Doughty) would be my favorite. He hasn’t played yet, but he is going to be good. I love Murray though. He is a high motor guy.”

---

Duop Reath, F, Sr.

On his overall performance today…
“It wasn’t good enough, obviously. We just didn’t play hard enough as a team. There are a lot of things that we have to get corrected.”

On his success in the paint…
“I was just finishing through contact. I was going straight up and being simple.”

On how to bounce back from the loss…
“We just have to get better. There is a lot we have to do to get better.”
---
Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl

Opening statement…
“It was a great environment tonight. The crowd was tremendous. The support for AUTLive was just incredible. We’ve got the brand out now of outliving cancer. I think it’s got a chance to hold on here. We’re going to take that money and spread it out into the community to patients. I can hardly wait to help them out some more because of the generosity of the community. What a treat - how do you not sit back at Mustapha Heron and go, ‘wow?’ The same goes for Bryce Brown or the defense of Jared Harper, Davion Mitchell or Bryce Brown on [Tremont] Waters. The help that they got in the ball screen defense from the bigs too. I just think the biggest thing is looking at the shared shots, the shared minutes and at the four spot. We got 32 points and 11 rebounds from the four spot. Chuma [Okeke] did play at the center position because we were in foul trouble, but the nine guys are playing well and playing well together. I do think matchups are important. They extended a little bit defensively in their press, which I thought made us better, and we probably took some shots that they were probably glad we took, but we made. I think our fans got treated to some fun basketball.”

On how other teams in the SEC can compete if they continue to play this well…
“We’re one game in front, but we’re probably two games from fifth or sixth place. Every night, you have to bring it. We have a lot of games left, and we can either win them all or lose them all. To play like this though, against a good LSU team, it was good to handle them here. We just have to keep on playing well.”

On defending Tremont Waters
“I think when it comes to ball screen defense, if you guard it the same way every time, they get a rhythm. As a play caller, when you change how you guard, I don’t know what to call. [Waters] didn’t know what to do. We paid a lot of attention to him and made sure we covered him on both sides of the ball screen. When you have Horace [Spencer], Anfernee [McLemore], Chuma [Okeke] and Desean [Murray], I have four guys that are quick enough to be able to get up and extend. That’s helped us in our ball screen defense.”

On challenges that come with being this successful in the league headed into February…
“I think that because the game has become so fast and furious, there isn’t time to think about how you’re 19-2. We may think about it tonight, but tomorrow we won’t because we have to prepare for Ole Miss. I don’t think the guys think that way either. We just keep putting challenges out there. We continue to stay humble and hungry. We weren’t in the Big 12/SEC Challenge tonight. Twelve other teams were. We didn’t earn our way in. We finished 11th last year, and we had to battle to finish at 11 last year. If we’re going to change perception, we have to go out there and do it on the floor.”

On Auburn’s plus-14 rebounding margin...
“I think an example of that is Desean Murray’s six offensive rebounds. It seems like every time we needed a bucket, he would fly in and get up there above the rim and knock one in for us. I thought we did a good job. LSU is (8-2) when they out-rebound their opponent, so we knew we had to fly around a little bit. I think the only other thing that gives us a chance is the nine guys and the fact that nobody has been beaten up with the heavy minutes. Not one guy plays 30 in there. That is a real advantage if we can keep that. I know the kids are going to get somewhat fatigued, everyone does. I think it is the fact that we have such balance in the minutes. The last couple of games you have seen teams tire a little bit, and it doesn’t seem like we have yet.”

On the success of the rotation with Chuma Okeke at the five position after foul trouble...
“He gives you a different dimension. Like Anfernee McLemore, you can do some things and stretch them out. We called some pick-and-pops for him out on the perimeter, and he just knocks them down. It is so frustrating as an opponent to think, ‘I can’t guard them all!’ When you put five guys in there that can step out, I don’t care what offense you’re running, it is just better. Then he is not soft down on the other end. He just bangs, and he flashes and flies around down there. He is a big bear. I am not calling him a teddy bear because he is tough. He is tough enough. He has a lot to his game. He has a lot to his ability. You give coach (Damon Davis) an off-season with Chuma (Okeke), you are going to see a grizzly bear. You don’t see a grizzly bear right now. You might just see a little brown bear.”

On if this was Desean Murray’s most complete game of the season...
“He was engaged. (Aaron) Epps was their four-man, and he is a really good pick-and-pop guy. He came in last year and had a double-double in the first half, so our guys did a good job defensively on him. Jared (Harper) has eight assists. Bryce (Brown) makes five 3s. Mustapha (Heron) shoots 8-for-10 and 4-for-6. Davion (Mitchell) doesn’t have a turnover. I do hope the crown is appreciating this. The bench is sitting there, and Davion is on the ball, and we are like, ‘Where are you going?’ to the offensive player. You’re not going anywhere because he is locked in on you. He only takes two shots, and he doesn’t make any, but he plays 21 minutes. He plays great defense and doesn’t turn the ball over. Having that second point guard on the floor, he is an important piece. They are all important.”

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