T.J. Dunans (above) is shown during Auburn's first game vs. LSU back in January.
Auburn, Ala.--Trying to avoid having their longest losing skid of the season, the Auburn basketball Tigers will try to snap out of their three-game losing streak in a road game on Tuesday evening at LSU.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CST in Baton Rouge, La., at the Pete Maravich Assemble Center. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Auburn, which is 16-11 overall and 5-9 in league play, comes into the contest following an 81-62 loss on Saturday at Texas A&M, a third consecutive setback for Coach Bruce Pearl’s team.
Asked if his team is discouraged by the recent losses, Pearl said, “Yeah, I would say just because of a combination of the math and the opportunities, and missed opportunities. They look at the standings, too, and they know where they want to be and they know where they are.
“Obviously, the Ole Miss loss was really disappointing and really hard to take,” the coach said. “I thought we bounced back and obviously played well in the first half against Florida, but...they’re disappointed, we’re all disappointed.
“I have been very honest with you all since I’ve been here,” Pearl said. “I’ have got a great locker room. Those guys are still...they are engaged. They are in early, they’re staying late. They want to try to win the last games that they can to try to get into postseason.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us to not play on that first day again,” he said of the SEC Tournament set for March 8-12 in Nashville.
“Part of it is just the strength of the league, and again, I want to try to be real consistent with this. I?have said it since the beginning. We may not be quite as strong at the top as some of our big power conferences in the sense that not having five or six Top 25 teams like some of the other conferences do, but if you look at teams like us and LSU, and Missouri and Mississippi State, those four teams are at the bottom. Just above us are Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Georgia. All three of those teams were picked to be in the three, four, five area preseason. Look at where they’re at. Because of the quality and the depth of our league that makes it really competitive every night.”
Auburn opened SEC play with three straight losses to Georgia, Vandy and Ole Miss, which is the only other time this season the Tigers dropped back-to-back games other than the current three-game losing streak.
Tuesday’s game is a rematch of a contest played Jan. 18th at Auburn Arena where Pearl’s Tigers outscored LSU 78-74. That was one of 13 SEC losses for the Bayou Bengals to go with just one victory. Overall, LSU is 9-17.
LSU is led by 6-4 sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney, who is averaging 17.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Duop Reath, a 6-10, 235 junior, is averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds.
LSU’s other double figures scorer is 6-5 sophomore guard Brandon Sampson at 11.3 points per outing.
Aaron Epps is a 6-10 junior forward for LSU.
In the first game vs. Auburn the Bayou Bengals were led in scoring by Aaron Epps, who posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“For us,the biggest challenge is Horace Spencer had his best game against LSU--10 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and was a real factor,” Pearl said. “Horace really helps us defensively.”
Spencer, a sophomore forward and center, will not play the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery last week. “The area where he helps us the most in is defense and rebounding and that toughness,” Pearl said. “That was a big loss.”
In addition to Spencer the Tigers got double figures scoring games from four others in game one vs. LSU. T.J. Dunans and Mustapha Heron scored 12 apiece while Anfernee McLemore chipped in with 11 points and Austin Wiley scored 10.