The win improves Auburn to 14-13, 5-11 in SEC play, while LSU falls to 18-9 overall and 8-8 in SEC play in the regular season finale for both teams.
"I thought the difference in the game was that we could not stop Brandon Robinson," LSU Coach John Brady said. "We could not stop Kyle Davis from getting rebounds on the low blocks. They are an experienced team and we are young. That could have been all the difference."
A whirlwind of activity, Robinson keyed a strong second-half for the Tigers as they broke open a three-point game at intermission and won going away. In his final game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, Kyle Davis also had a career-day of sorts with 16 rebounds and his first three-point basket in four seasons at Auburn.
Also chipping in with double-figures in points were junior guards Ian Young with 14 and Lewis Monroe with 13. Coach Cliff Ellis said this was an important win for a team looking for some confidence heading into next week's SEC Tournament.
"I thought we played well again offensively," Ellis said. "I am proud of this team and proud of Brandon Robinson for getting his third double-double in a row. For Kyle Davis it is great that he is able to finish with 16 rebounds in only 22 minutes.
"We feel good about going into Atlanta," Ellis added. "It is going to be an open tournament. This win was a good way to build momentum for the tournament. We have had a chance to win almost every game this year and I think that will carry over into the tournament. I think Kentucky and Mississippi State are the two favorites and the teams to beat. Anything can happen."
Leading by three at the half, Auburn didn't exactly fire out of the gates in the second half as LSU closed the lead quickly thanks to two free throws and a basket by Brandon Bass. That's when the Robinson show would move onto center stage.
With the game tied at 42, Robinson stole a pass intended for Bass and took it the length of the court for the first of a series of slam dunks in the second half. Just moments later the process would be repeated as Robinson stole the ball and scored on a lay-up to give Auburn a four-point lead.
Streaky Darrel Mitchell would keep LSU within striking distance for much of the second half with his long range bombs. The first of those came with 16:47 left to cut the Auburn lead to 46-45. Auburn would score the next five points to push the lead back to five before Mitchell would strike again, this time from the left wing.
Leading 51-48, Auburn would push the lead out once again as a Marco Killingsworth basket in the paint and a Robinson monster dunk with 13:28 left after a steal on the perimeter gave Auburn a seven-point cushion once again.
Auburn's Brandon Robinson goes up to try to block a shot by LSU's Darnell Lazare during Saturday's game.
The two teams would trade baskets for the next few minutes of action as Darnell Lazare and Robinson carried the load offensively. It wasn't until LSU cut the lead to one with 9:43 left on a Mitchell three that things got interesting once again. Just like previous times when LSU made a run, Robinson would be there to answer the call on a day when the Tigers pushed the ball up the court and played with an up-tempo style.
"I'm pretty sure all of our guys like playing this style," Robinson said. "We can get it out and run. The quicker we get it out the quicker we score and get back on defense. Speaking for the team I think this is the style we need to play. Everybody is 100 percent and everybody's head is on straight knowing the season we've been through. Just knowing that they're not going to give up feels pretty good."
First he got an offensive rebound following a Killingsworth miss and scored on the putback to put Auburn up 61-58 with 9:13 remaining in the game. Just seconds later Monroe stepped in front of an LSU pass and fed it ahead to Robinson for another dunk to bring the crowd to its feet. A Lazare basket would cut the lead, but that's when Young and Robinson would bring out the dagger to tame the LSU beast once and for all.
Leading just 63-60, Young drained a long three from the left wing with 6:19 left to push Auburn back ahead by six. After one free throw by Bass, Robinson scored on a jumper in the lane to make the lead seven and a tip-in by Davis with 4:34 left gave Auburn its biggest lead of the game to this point at 70-61. Two Robinson free throws following another offensive rebound gave the homestanding Tigers a commanding 11-point cushion with just over four minutes left in the game.
Mitchell wouldn't let LSU die just yet as he drained another three-pointer with 3:43 left to cut the lead to eight. Unfortunately for LSU that would be just about all offensively as the Tigers went 3:39 without scoring another point to allow Auburn to push out the lead and take the easy victory.
The Auburn victory was capped in appropriate style as Davis banked in a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to give Auburn a 78-64 lead. A late Bass basket made the final score 78-66 and put LSU's NCAA hopes in serious jeopardy.
The key to the second half improvement for Auburn came on the boards as the Tigers outrebounded LSU 31-19 in the final 20 minutes after being dominated in the first half 24-12. Davis was a big reason why Auburn was able to dominate on the glass with 13 rebounds in only 13 minutes in the second half. He said it was a thrill to close out his career with a win and to play well in his final game.
"Earlier in the first half we might have slipped around and not boxed out and they were getting offensive rebounds," Davis said. "We went in at halftime talking about what we needed to pick up and defensive rebounding was the main thing. I just went out there and boxed out Bass and tried to get every rebound I could."
The first half was a solid one for both Auburn and LSU as the largest lead for either team a seven-point advantage for Auburn late in the stanza at 39-32 when Monroe nailed a jumper from the top of the key.
It appeared as if Auburn might run away and hide late in the half, but LSU had other ideas and the Bengal Tigers were helped by questionable defense on Auburn's part. Spotting up outside the arc, Reg Koundjia fired up a three-pointer that was off the mark, but Monroe fouled him on the way down to give him three free throws. Making two of three, Koundjia cut the lead to five and Mitchell cut it even more when he drained a three with 1:43 left in the first half.
Two free throws by Robinson pushed the lead back to four before a Lazare layup off an offensive rebound with 32 seconds left brought LSU back to within two. Nathan Watson's free throw with just four seconds left in the half brought things to a close as Auburn took a 42-39 lead into intermission and made it stand up for the Tigers' fifth conference win of the season.
The Auburn victory assures the Tigers the SEC Tournament Western Division's fourth seed and they will take on either Georgia or Tennessee at noon central time on Thursday in the Georgia Dome. By virtue of Alabama's loss to Mississippi State, LSU earns the second seed and a bye in the first round of the tournament.
Commenting on Davis, Auburn's all-time leading shot blocker, Ellis said that the senior will be missed. "What he is, what his career has shown, is that he is a great rebounder. He is a great shot blocker. Offensively, he had a reasonable day today. I would think he would want some scores down low."
LSU coach John Brady said that he believes his team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament at 8-8 in the league and Top 25 RPI listing. Mitchell, who led LSU with 18 points, agreed and said,"I think we can get in. We have a good RPI. We finished .500 in the league and with Mississippi State beating Alabama it should be even easier for us to get in."