Photography: Derick Hinkle

The Auburn Basketball Tigers Took Control in the Second Half for an SEC Road Victory at LSU

Balanced scoring and a good defensive performance in the second half led Auburn to a victory at LSU.

Ronnie Johnson (above) led Auburn in scoring on Tuesday night at the Maravich Assembly Center.

Baton Rouge, La.--With five players scoring in double figures and four more scoring six or more points the  Auburn Tigers snapped their three-game SEC basketball losing streak with a 98-75 victory over LSU on Tuesday night.

The Tigers shot 51.6 percent from the field, including 60 percent in the second half when they outscored the home team 53-33.

The 23-point margin of victory is Auburn's largest ever in a game at LSU, breaking the old mark of 18 in 1958. The 98 points were the second most in a game at Baton Rouge behind 102 in 1976.

It was also the largest margin of victory for the Tigers in an SEC road game since a 76-48 decision at South Carolina in 1999.

“The second half defense was really good,” said Coach Bruce Pearl, who noted that he demanded the defense improve. “Both Mustapha (Heron) and Bryce (Brown) did not start the second half. Both played much better in the second. It wasn’t that it was just Bryce and Mustapha. I just picked out a couple of guys.” LSU made just 34.5 percent of their second half field goals.

Ronnie Johnson came off the bench to lead Auburn in scoring with 17 points. The graduate transfer made 6-11 field goals and dished out a pair of assists.

“Defensively, we really wanted to rebound as a team and sprint back on defense,” said Johnson, who noted that offensively the Tigers were effective with their ball screens.

Danjel Purifoy and Bryce Brown scored 15 points apiece, T.J. Dunans added 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench and Mustapha Heron finished with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Pearl said he liked what he saw from Dunans, who hit 5-9 field goals, 1-2 threes while adding three assists and two steals. "When T.J. Dunans plays that way, when he plays that hard and that unselfishly and makes everybody better, is he a terrific player.

"Bryce Brown shot well and played pretty good defense," the coach said. "Jared Harper did not have a turnover. Austin was 3-4 from the four line Anfernee was 7-8 at the foul line. The fact that we were 10-12 at the foul from the five (position) was very significant."

Pearl also liked the work his team did on the boards. "These guys had 29 second chance points against us at Auburn and tonight they only had 10."

DANJEL PURIFOY (PHOTO BY Terrill Weil)

Danjel Purifoy is shown in action on Tuesday night.

Auburn out-rebounded LSU 39-30 as it improved its record to 17-11 overall and 6-9 in the SEC while assuring itself of its first winning season since 2008-09. LSU dropped to 9-18 overall and 1-14 in the league.

LSU sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney, who had averaged 27.2 points in his previous four outings, led all scorers with 29 points as he hit 8-17 field goals and 10-11 free throws.

Auburn led most of the first half, building the margin to as many as a dozen points on a layup by Ronnie Johnson to make the score 23-11 at the 11:13 mark. LSU tied the game at 29-29 and kept it close the rest of the period as AU took a 45-42 advantage into the locker room.

Auburn hit 15-34 field goals (44.1 percent) in the first half while making 6-18 threes and 9-13 free throws. LSU hit 14-30 field goals (46.7 percent), 3-9 threes and 11-13 free throws. AU was plus four in rebound margin at the break and both teams had six turnovers.

Purifoy, Johnson, Dunans and Austin Wiley each scored seven points in the first half for Pearl’s Tigers while Blakeney led LSU with 10 first half points.

Auburn built its lead back into double figures with back-to-back three-pointers by Brown to make the score 57-47 at the 15:37 mark. The home team cut the lead to 57-51 after a timeout, but Auburn bumped the  margin back to double figures on a fastbreak basket by Heron at the 12:04 mark and was never seriously threatened after that.

Photography: Derick Hinkle

T.J. Dunans drives for two points.

Pearl said he liked what he saw from Dunans, who was 5-9 from the field, 1-2 on threes with three assists and two steals in addition to his seven rebounds. "When T.J. Dunans plays that way, that hard and that unselfish and makes everybody better, he is a terrific player and he makes teams better.

"Bryce Brown shot really well and played pretty good defense," Pearl said. "Jared did not have a turnover. Austin (Wiley) was 3-4 from the foul line and Anfernee McLemore was 7-8. The fact our centers were 10-12 at the foul line was very, very significant.

"The second half rebounding and the second half defense was significant," Pearl said. "These guys (LSU) had 29 second-chance points against us in Auburn. Tonight they only had 10."

Worth Noting, Part 1: The Tigers earned their sixth win this season on an opponent’s homecourt.

Worth Noting, Part 2: AU outscored LSU 17-10 on second-chance points.

Stat of the Game: Auburn enjoyed a 43-19 advantage points from non-starters.

Up Next: The Tigers will be at Auburn Arena for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Saturday vs. Arkansas.

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