Bruce Pearl's Auburn Basketball Team Lost 80-68 to LSU

The Auburn basketball Tigers couldn't defend their homecourt vs. an LSU team led by freshman sensation Big Simmons.

Bryce Brown (above) led Auburn in scoring vs. LSU.

Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn's basketball struggles continued on Tuesday night as the Tigers lost a fourth consecutive game, falling 80-68 to visiting LSU following another poor shooting performance.

Bruce Pearl’s team hit just 36.5 percent of its field goals while LSU made 56.7 percent from the field.

Auburn launched 34 three-pointers and made 10 while LSU did most of its damage closer to rim, outscoring the home team 46-20 for the points in the paint statistic. LSU took just 13 threes and made three.

None of those threes was attempted by LSU’s freshman star Ben Simmons, who came up three assists shy of posting a triple-double. He finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Simmons noted that when he gets off seven or more shots the Bayou Bengals are likely to win games so he made an effort to shoot the ball more. He took 15 field goals and made nine. “I think I wanted to be more aggressive and attack the rim more,” the six-foot-ten forward from Australia said.

Bryce Brown, who came off the bench, led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points. He made six threes on 13 tries behind the arc while adding five rebounds and two assists.

Brown, who had been struggling to make three-pointers in recent games, noted that he has spent extra time in the gym recently working on his shooting touch.

“ I got up a lot of shots before this game and I  think that is the reason why I  had my success tonight,” the freshman guard said.

Nobody else played well for the Tigers. Asked what the issue was, Brown said, “We could have played a little bit better defensively. They had a lot of easy points.”

Brown added, “Honestly, we just have to play harder as a team. That is our biggest problem and rebounding is another big problem for us.” LSU pulled down 43 rebounds, 11 more than Auburn.

The guard twisted his ankle in the closing seconds when he tried to shoot a layup and landed on the foot of Simmons. “I just tweaked it a little bit,” he said. “I should be fine.”

Auburn’s record drops to 9-12 overall and 3-6 in the SEC. LSU is 14-8 and 7-2 in the league.

Pearl said he liked the way that Brown and Cinmeon Bowers “competed” coming off the bench. The Tigers usually are outscored in bench points, but had a 33-21 advantage.

Surprisingly, the coach said he thought Bowers played well. The numbers showed the senior forward hit just 3-14 field goals, including 1-5 on threes. He was 8-16 at the foul line with three assists, six turnovers and two steals on the way to finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Cinmeon Bowers missed 11 of his 14 field goal attempts vs. LSU.

Kareem Canty added 14 points and five assists for the Tigers.

Pearl said he was impressed with Simmons. “I thought we could have done a better job defensively with him, building that wall against him and making him take contested shots.”

The coach pointed out that another big issue was that his Tigers missed six or seven shots in the first half when they got the basketball within two feet of the basket. “We should have been able to score at a much higher rate than that,” he said.

LSU led just over three-quarters of the first half and was on top 38-31 at intermission with Simmons leading the way. The six-foot-ten freshman scored 17 points and pulled in nine rebounds in the opening half.

Auburn’s largest in the lead in the half was just two points while LSU was on top by as many as a dozen points with 1:44 left in the period.

Halftime Numbers: LSU hit 17-32 field goals (53.1 percent), 3-8 threes and 1-4 free throws. Auburn made 12-34 field goals (35.3 percent), 5-17 threes and 2-4 free throws. LSU held a 23-16 advantage in rebounds while Auburn finished the half with six turnovers, three less than the visitors.

Auburn’s bench contributed 11 points in the opening half, but LSU didn’t have any scoring from its subs. Canty led the Tigers in first half scoring with 10 points while Brown added nine as he hit 3-5 treys.

Sloppy play by the Tigers to start the second half enabled LSU to build the lead to 11 points less than three minutes into the period. The margin stretched to 21 with 7:56 to play before LSU began playing sloppy basketball. Auburn was able to cut the lead to 11 with 3:03 to play, but didn’t shoot well enough down the stretch to pull off the comeback.

LSU's Craig Victor, who scored 13 points while adding eight rebounds, said the start of the second half was a key to victory. “I would say we definitely came on. We capitalized on our offense. We have these things called kills, which is when we get three stops in a row, and I think we had nine tonight so that definitely helped us out.”

Keith Hornsby and Josh Gray scored 10 points apiece to give LSU four scorers in double figures. Tyler Harris just missed double figures for Auburn, finishing with nine points and four rebounds while also turning the ball over four times.

“Our guys are competitors,” said Pearl. “Just to be honest with you the losing is tough. It is tough on everybody. The kids, they understand that night in and night out that we talked about prior to Kentucky coming in, we are not going to be favored in a game the rest of the year. It is hard to put your kids in that situation.”

Worth Noting Part 1: LSU did a good job defending T.J. Lang, who played 24 minutes without scoring a point or even taking a shot.

Worth Noting, Part 2: LSU turned the ball over 18 times, four more than Auburn, but outscored the Tigers 21-11 in points off of turnovers.

Stat of the Game: Auburn finished with just 23 made field goals, 11 fewer than the visitors.

Up Next: The Tigers will travel to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 4:30 p.m. CST on Saturday.

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