Tigers Get LeMelle Back In Solid Victory Over Tech

Auburn pulled off a 13-point win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday as one of AU's key players got back on the court.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn men's basketball team had a good day Saturday as the Tigers picked up their fourth straight win, a 79-67 decision over Louisiana Tech at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, and got back to full strength health-wise with Ronny LeMelle, who was held out the first three games of the season following knee surgery, getting back into action.

LeMelle, who had broken his foot early in the summer and recently had surgery to repair a slight tear in the medial meniscus of his right knee, said it felt good to get back on the court. "I was just happy to be out there," LeMelle noted. "It felt good to be out there beside my teammates.

"My leg feels fine," he added about getting back to action so quickly. "I am just trying to get my wind back. They said depending on the swelling and stuff around my leg--the trainers had me in there twice a day getting it out. They were about on time to when they said they were going to have me back."

Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said that although he wanted to get LeMelle back into action the pace of Saturday's game allowed him to get some extra work. "I wasn't really planning to play him as much. He has only really had one day of practice and that was yesterday," Lebo explained. "He felt pretty good. I let him out there and we had a lead of about 12-14 points so I left him out there. He felt like he needed to get some wind and he did some good things for us."

On the court, the Tigers once again used their speed and physical conditioning to offset a large size advantage inside by their opponent.

"Today, they were not in as good of condition as ourselves so the coaches kept telling us to keep pushing it and they were going to wear down," senior guard Ian Young explained.

Louisiana Tech started 6-8 sophomore forward Paul Millsap, who transferred to the Bulldogs from Grambling, and 6-9 senior forward Wayne Powell, and were able to take advantage of that size early.

The Bulldogs were hurting the Tigers on the boards and inside offensively. They used their size advantage to pull out to a 13-9 lead at the 15:50 mark of the first half behind eight quick points for Millsap, who scored 31 on the day and also pulled down 18 rebounds, and two more for Powell.

The Tigers then tied the game at 13-13 with 14:05 remaining in the half on a Toney Douglas jumper, however, Tech then made its only run of the game and pulled out to a 21-15 lead over the next four minutes.

Ian Young playd very well for the Tigers on Saturday.

That six-point lead was the most the Bulldogs would enjoy on the day, and Auburn quickly re-took the lead 22-21 with three straight baskets and three straight defensive stops. Daniel Hayles capped the quick run as he dropped in a layup and was fouled by Millsap. Hayles then hit the free throw and that would remove Louisiana Tech's final lead of the game with 8:50 remaining in the half.

Following a Millsap layup that tied things up at 29 with 4:31 remaining in the half, the Tigers went on a 10-1 run to close out the half and take a 40-30 lead into the break.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to six with 15:21 remaining in the game, but that was as close as they would come. The Tigers were able to stretch the lead out to 18 on a Quinnel Brown layup with 8:31 remaining, and were firmly in control of the game for the entire second half as they went on to take a 12-point victory.

"I thought defensively for the majority of the game, maybe not the first eight minutes of the game, we did a nice job," Lebo explained. "Defensively, they had a hard time getting looks at the basket. They are not a particularly good perimeter shooting team. We did worry about Millsap around the basket. He is a load. He has skill. He has great hands. He is strong. He could play in any league in America."

Along with the strong effort defensively, Auburn used good shooting and a 25-point performance from Young to take down the Bulldogs.

Auburn shot 44.1 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range on the afternoon. While Louisiana Tech only shot 39.7 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from behind the arc.

Young led the Tigers offensively with 25 points and was 6-9 from three-point range. Hayles added 12 points and four rebounds, Douglas scored 11 points and grabbed seven boards and Nathan Watson dropped in 10 points.

"We moved the ball well today," Lebo said. "We had a couple of possessions where it stuck in our hands a little bit, but when we moved it and were unselfish with it we got good looks at the basket and had some driving opportunities."

"I thought Ian, offensively, made some key shots," Lebo added. "When he takes open ones I feel good that they are going to go in."

For the Bulldogs, who fall to 1-2 with the loss, it was a two-man show on Saturday. Millsap led the way with his stellar performance and senior guard Corey Dean also had a strong performance scoring 19 points and pulling down four rebounds. The two players combined for 50 of Louisiana Tech's 69 points.

The Bulldogs were able to outrebound the Tigers 45-36, but Auburn actually kept things pretty even in the paint and were only outscored 32-28.

The Tigers, who move to 4-0 with the win, will take to the court again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to face the Colorado State Rams.

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