No Head Hanging, No Regrets For Lebo's Tigers

Comments from players and coaches are featured as Auburn's basketball season ends with a loss to LSU in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

Atlanta, Ga.--The LSU Tigers closed the door on Coach Jeff Lebo's first season on the Plains in the Georgia Dome Friday night by the score of 89-58.

The Tigers finished the season 14-17, exceeding expectations after four players transferred out of the program and two others were sidelined during the season.

"I enjoyed this season a lot," said senior guard Nathan Watson, who was forced into playing forward this season. "We have no reason to hang our heads about anything by any means. I'm very proud of our guys and we played hard through every game. We were very positive throughout the season and we have nothing to hang our heads about."

Last year's team, which was much taller and much more talented, also won a total of 14 games under former coach Cliff Ellis. Senior point guard Ian Young said he enjoyed Lebo's first year at Auburn.

"The guys in the locker room always had a great time," Young said. "This is the most I've gotten along with a team ever. We had a great group of guys, and the guys coming in are also a great group of guys, so the Auburn program is up and coming."

LSU Coach John Brady, who is not known for his kind words, said after the game that he was extremely impressed with the job that Lebo and the Auburn players did this season.

"First off, I think Jeff Lebo has done a great job with Auburn this year," Brady said. "For him to have won some of the games that he did was unbelievable."

The Tigers beat the heavily-favored Vanderbilt Thursday night as they were able to take advantage of the slower inside player of the Commodores. However, that was not the case Friday against Brandon Bass and Glen Davis, two of the most athletic post players in the country.

Although Bass, the SEC Player of the Year, had only six points on the night, he and Davis garnered the attention of the Auburn defense to open for the floor for the LSU perimeter players, mainly senior swingman Antonio Hudson.

"LSU was terrific tonight," Lebo said. "Our chance was for them to miss shots. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. Inside they're good and big and we didn't have any answer for that tonight. It took our will a bit when they made those long ones."

Hudson struck for a pair of early threes to give the LSU Tigers a 10-2 early advantage. From there LSU used an inside-outside attack to slowly stretch the halftime lead to 20 points. Hudson ended the half with his fifth made three to give him 17 points in the first 20 minutes.

"In warm-ups I was shooting the ball pretty well," Hudson said. "I was fortunate enough to hit my first shot and I have to credit my teammates for continuing to look for me. Without Davis and Bass in the middle I wouldn't be able to have the opportunities."

At halftime, Bass had six points and eight rebounds and Davis had nine points and four rebounds as LSU claimed a 46-26 lead.

The six Auburn regulars played all but one minute in the 77-73 win over Vanderbilt and every minute of the first half vs. LSU. The Tigers played like they were tired, committing 11 turnovers and making only 10-29 shots in the first half for 34.5 percent.

LSU made 17-30 shots for 56.7 percent, including 7-10 from three-point range at halftime.

Ian Young takes a shot in his final collegiate game.

"I think fatigue played a little bit of a factor tonight, especially at the start," Watson said. "It definitely played a factor."

The second half was all "Big Baby" Davis as the Fighting Tigers picked up where they left off by extending the lead to 29 at 59-30. The 310-pounder ate up the Auburn defense and glass on both ends of the court. He even hit a long two-pointer from the corner and a three from the top of the key.

The LSU lead grew to as big as 35 points with the reserves on the court for both teams.

Davis scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in only nine minutes of action in the second half. He finished with a game-high 24 points while adding eight rebounds. The big freshman had no turnovers in 26 minutes of action.

Facing a constant double team, Bass had no points and only one rebound in eight minutes of action in the second half. Hudson finished with 21 points and Mitchell added 13.

LSU made 32-58 shots from the floor (55.2 percent) and 11-18 from the three-point line (61.1 percent). Auburn made just 22-65 shots (33.8 percent) and 6-27 threes (22.2 percent)

LSU out-rebounded Auburn 41-31. Auburn turned the ball over 16 times, two more than LSU. The LSU Tigers Tournament semi-finals Saturday.

Watson finished his Auburn career with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists. Young had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Senior Quinnel Brown, who played above his head all season, had only four points and four rebounds. The other senior on the Auburn team, reserve Troy Gaines, played the final five minutes of the game and scored two points.

"There's nothing to hang their head about this season," Lebo said of his team. "I'm proud of them and I think the Auburn people are proud of them. They laid the foundation and they competed very hard all year through so much adversity.

"They never pointed fingers or made excuses," he added. "It's hard to talk to them after a game like that, especially the seniors and to have to look them in the eye. I really think that as a team, they maximized everything they had and that's all you can ask from your kids."

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