In the second half, the Bayou Bengals delivered the body blows to soften up Jeff Lebo's Tigers, who had no answer for LSU's power game on Saturday as the visitors rallied for a 77-64 SEC basketball victory. LSU outscored Auburn in the paint by a decisive 38-16 margin.
Six-foot-eight, 252-pound Brandon Bass led the effort to TKO Lebo's Tigers with 22 points and eight rebounds. His sidekicke, 6-9, 310-pound Glen "Big Baby" Davis, chipped in 17 points, seven rebounds and plenty of inside intimidation.
Nathan Watson battles for a loose ball against Big Baby.
Auburn senior Nathan Watson, who was assigned to guard those big guys at times, said it wasn't easy. "They outweigh us by about 150 pounds," he noted. "It is hard guarding them for 40 minutes."
Lebo said that he thought LSU's power players caused his team major problems. "They just wore us out in the second half with their size," he said. "They are men in there."
Auburn had designs on an upset on Saturday before 4,269 fans at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, quickly building a double-digit lead with crisp play that impressed LSU coach John Brady. "Auburn played extremely well in the first half, particularly for the first 10 to 12 minutes," he said. "The last 10 to 20 minutes of the game we played about as well as we could play."
A statistic that goes a long way toward explaining why LSU was outscored 34-28 in the first half before rallying to outscore Auburn 49-30 in the second half is rebounding. AU held a 20-15 edge at halftime, but LSU turned that around with a 24-9 margin in the second half.
"We went back out in the second half and really rebounded the ball," Brady said. "We had 14 offensive rebounds in the game. I am proud of that and for our team staying the course in the first half when Auburn was playing well."
Toney Douglas plays defense against LSU in Saturday's game.
Watson scored a dozen for Auburn and added five rebounds.
A trio of early three-pointers, including two by Young, put the home team ahead 9-2 early. LSU cut the gap to 9-8, but Auburn stayed hot from three-point range and stretched the margin into double figures on a Watson three to make the score 27-15 with 7:53 left in the half.
LSU steadily cut the margin the rest of the half, narrowing the lead to four on a jumper by Ross Neltner. A basket with two seconds left by Douglas put Auburn ahead 34-28 at halftime.
Auburn outshot LSU 43.3 to 42.9 percent in the first half. The difference was in three-pointers as AU hit 7-15 to 2-8 for the visitors who two fewer turnovers.
The second half was a very different story as Auburn couldn't find the range from three-point territory early in the period while LSU caused AU problems with its substantial size advantage and intensity on defense.
Auburn made just 32.1 percent of its second half shots to finish at 37.9 percent for the game. LSU made 56.7 percent in the second half to finish at an even 50 percent.
LSU caught the home team at the 13-minute mark on a three-point shot by Bass to take a 45-44 lead. After that the Bayou Bengals quickly took control, building the margin to double figures by scoring 10 more points in less than two minutes.
Auburn never made a serious run after that even though Lebo tried a variety of combinations with his lineup.
LSU improved to 10-4 in the SEC and 17-8 overall in what Brady said was an important victory as his team tries to win the SEC West. Auburn fell to 12-15 and 3-11 in the league.
Bass said his team has improved significantly since early in the season by taking care of the "little things" that make a difference between winning and losing.
The Tigers return to action on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. road game at Alabama.