LSU and Auburn meet for the second time Tuesday at 6 at the Maravich Center
LSU Athletics Creative Services

Tigers Host Auburn in Tuesday 6 p.m. Hoops Contest

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

BATON ROUGE – LSU looks to find the couple of  points it could never come up with in the first meeting with Auburn when the two teams meet for the second time this season Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The game is set for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff at the Maravich Center with the radio broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network with the “Voice of the Tigers” Chris Blair and televised on the SEC Network with Chris Morgan and Dane Bradshaw. Tickets are available at LSUtix.net and at the upper concourse ticket windows of the Maravich Center beginning at 4:30 p.m. LSU Students are admitted free of charge with a valid ID.

Four times in the final minutes of a 78-74 loss on Jan. 18, the Tigers of LSU had cut a big Auburn lead down to two points. But the Tigers were unable to stop Auburn on ensuing possessions and the home Tigers that night were able to keep LSU at bay.

Aaron Epps led LSU with a double double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Duop Reath and Antonio Blakeney had 13 points each. LSU made just 29-of-74 shots in the game, shooting 39 percent for the contest.

Auburn comes in off an 81-62 loss at Texas A&M on Saturday. Mustapha Heron, who led the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game, led the Tigers with 20 points. Auburn shot 34.3 percent in the game (23-of-67) but made 11 three-pointers in the contest.

Antonio Blakeney is coming off a week in which he scored 28 points at Ole Miss and 29 points at Alabama giving him seven career games of 25 or more points. Brandon Sampson has scored in double figures each of the six games. Blakeney comes in averaging 17.4 points overall and Sampson is at 11.3 points per game.

Follow updates on the game at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media on Monday prior to practice and here are some of his comments:

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
Opening statement…
“We’re looking forward to a tough test (Tuesday) against a very talented Auburn basketball team. They’re coming off of a tough setback at Texas A&M. They have shown their ability to play in the number of games they've won this year and the way that they've played throughout. They've been in some battles this year. They are a team that can really put up points. They have four freshmen that lead them in scoring. They play with rhythm and an attitude. You have to be ready, focused and pay attention to detail to have an opportunity to compete with these guys for 40 minutes. Unfortunately we came up short against them at their place and we know it’s going to take our full attention to have an opportunity to get the ship righted against the talent that they possess on their team.”

On how the players are handling the losing streak…
“I think anytime you have setbacks our guys have done a good job of trying to address the matter and bounce back and get better to prepare for the next outing. I would certainly think that it’s had an effect on them. It’s nothing that you want them to get used to or become immune to. You have to make sure you continue to make sure that you work. I think their focus has been right and their attitude has been good in coming back and preparing for the next opponent.”

On the difference in how the team played against Ole Miss versus Alabama…
“I don't think we played as well as we needed to against a different team. Alabama is a different team in the way they play. They’re going to grind it; they like to get into the shot clock a little bit. They don't play as fast, they’re a tempo generated team. They did good job of executing in the first half. We failed to make some plays on the offensive end. We didn't knock down shots. Defensively we weren’t as in tuned as we needed to be against a team like that. Making the extra plays. We talk about 50-50 balls and hustle plays and we weren’t able to do that at a high rate early on Saturday. I thought it was better in the second half. We were more aggressive in what we were trying to do on both ends of the floor. I think that's been somewhat the makeup of our team this year. Unfortunately with the inexperience that we have the growth has been there but it’s been slow. I think the inconsistency kind of comes along with who we are right now.”

On what he’s seen from the team’s preparation…
“I think one of the big things that you look for is how their temperament has been in each practice and their preparation, and I think it’s been good. I think that's a telltale sign. They’re trying to get better and are focused. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of making sure that we keep trying to implement some things to help them to really stay engaged, which I think is really good. I think especially this time of year with what they've had an opportunity to go through over the last several weeks, that's really important.”

On players like Blakeney and Sampson attacking the rim more the past couple of games…
“We’re trying to do a better job of getting into their foul count and getting to the free-throw line. It gives us easy scoring opportunities and it makes us a little more difficult to defend. Early on we didn't shoot a lot of threes. We were one of the teams that shot the least amount of threes, although we feel like we’re a good shooting team. We were shooting the least amount of free throws as well. We’re glad that that number has gone up. (Brandon) Sampson and Tone (Antonio Blakeney) both are now experienced and understand that if you drive the ball there are easy scoring opportunities when you’re getting fouled and getting to the free-throw line. Both of them have done a better job as of late, and I think that's a sign of maturity as well.”

On if driving to the rim gets Brandon Sampson going…
“Initially he used to like to shoot the jump shot. He used to live outside of the three-point line and that's where he was comfortable. I think now that he’s found out that it’s okay going in there, and that he’s probably going to take a lick and get fouled hard at times, he’s been able to bounce back from those and get to the line. His scoring average has gone up. He’s done a tremendous job of getting to the free-throw line. He’s been able to bounce back from those and get to the line. He’s done a tremendous job of getting to the free throw line. I think he’s had a really good balance with getting to the line with being able to shoot the three ball as well. I think he’s been more effective for us when he’s been able to do that. He’s a tough matchup, he can catch the ball on the wing and because of his quickness, get to the gaps and create foul opportunities.”

On the maturity of the freshmen…
“I think the number of minutes that Skylar (Mays) and Wayde Sims have had to play for us have put them in a situation where they had to grow up quick. They were getting on job experience. They didn't have the opportunity to sit back and learn from someone else. Both of them have had to share starting responsibilities and when they haven’t, they've had to come in and garnish a lot of minutes of playing time and have really had to come in and had to have an impact on the outcome of the game. Both of those freshmen have done a really good job as the season has progressed, maturing along the way.”

On what he sees in Auburn…
“The good thing for them is they've had a good balance with guys returning from last year. The depth of what they've done offensively has been from their freshmen, those guys are super talented. They’re some of the top rated guys in the country. You can put them on par with some of the top recruiting classes in the country. Those guys have had the opportunity to play a lot of minutes early on. I think as the season has progressed, the amount of minutes they've played has turned into chemistry those guys have. The coaches have had time to implement what they want to do offensively and defensively, and I think it’s been growing on their team. They’re like us in a lot of areas; they don't have a lot of other people to turn to. They have to allow those freshmen to get minutes. They do have a couple of other guards in Brown and the other kids out there that have played valuable minutes from a year ago that has helped them as well.”

“On having Auburn at home after playing them close in the last matchup…
“It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to play at home. Generally we’ve been a great team at home over the years. Unfortunately we haven’t fared well this year, but we’re still a very confident team. We’d much rather be playing in the confines of our building as opposed to elsewhere. We’re hopeful that tomorrow that will be something that will be very beneficial to this team in trying to get back on track.”

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