LSU Gets By Tigers In Final Minute

Auburn nearly pulled off the basketball upset vs. No. 25 LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn had its chances against LSU, but couldn't hold on to the lead as a lay-in by Tasmin Mitchell with 30 seconds remaining proved to be the difference as LSU held on for a 65-61 victory.

The two teams battled back and forth as there were 13 second half lead changes. Mitchell's lay-in was his only points of the game and gave LSU a two-point advantage. Auburn had an opportunity on the other end to take the lead or tie, but Quantez Robertson missed a wide open three and Ronny LeMelle rushed a shot after the rebound that was rebounded by LSU.

LeMelle missed and Glen "Big Baby" Davis grabbed his 11th board of the game, passed to Darrel Mitchell, who was fouled and calmly sank two free throws with one second left to seal the win.

"It was a play for Darrel Mitchell," LSU coach John Brady said of the game-winning play by Tasmin Mitchell. "It's called our one play. When Darrel came off the up-screen and we threw him the ball they ran at him like they were going to double team him. Darrel just saw Tasmin and was fortunate enough to get it to him, and Tasmin made a play."

Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said the loss was a huge disappointment for his young team.

"It's hard for the kids," Lebo said. "We did a lot of good things. They went zone in the second half and we had three in a row wide open looks and just couldn't make them. Tez got a great look at the end and couldn't make it."

Robertson played well and had 10 points and five assists, but couldn't hit the big shot at the end.

Auburn held a 56-51 lead with 8:06 remaining and had all of the momentum, but turned in another offensive drought in scoring only five more points the rest of the way. LSU scored six straight points before Auburn guard Rasheem Barrett nailed a three from the corner with 3:29 left to put his team up by two.

Tyrus Thomas, one of the more athletically-gifted players in the league, tied the game at 59 and Davis hit two free throws with just over a minute to play. Josh Dollard put an up and under move on Thomas at the other end of the court to tie the game on a lay-up, but Auburn would fail to score again.

In the first half Auburn raced out to an early 14-9 lead behind 10 quick points from LeMelle. The senior hit a floater in the lane, a pair of threes and threw down a fast break one-handed dunk as Auburn went up by five. The lead grew to as big as seven at 18-11 on a three from the top of the key by Brett Howell, but Thomas led LSU back to take the lead after a 17-6 run.

The LSU Tigers led by four at 28-24 with two minutes to go, but their lead didn't hold up for long. LeMelle followed his own miss for two points and Robertson added a jumper to tie the game. After a steal by Robertson on the defensive end the Tigers had a two-on-one fast break, but passed it to the wrong team. Thomas had an easy two at the other end with 45 seconds remaining in the first half.

Bothered by Auburn's 1-3-1 zone defense, LSU had its 14th turnover of the half with 3.7 seconds remaining. Going the length of the court, Robertson found Howell wide open in the corner. All in one motion Howell caught it and shot it, swishing a three to give Auburn a 31-30 lead to start the second half.

LeMelle, who had career highs with 19 points and nine rebounds at Knoxville on Wednesday, continued to play aggressively on the offensive end and had 16 of his team's 31 points at halftime.

"We did a better job on LeMelle in the second half," Brady said. "The second thing is we took better care of the ball. I didn't think we were particularly ready to play because we had some careless turnovers. We turned it over 14 times in the first half and four in the second half. The other thing, we went to the zone and it disrupted the flow of their offense. I think the zone got them out of a rhythm and we were able to stop them."

LSU started the final 20 minutes strong behind 17 second half points by Davis, who finished with 24. He carried his team to a five-point advantage at 43-38.

"He's a hard worker and he gives it his all," Dollard said of Davis. "He's a big guy. I tried to front him, I tried to play behind him. I got in foul trouble early so I wasn't able to play as aggressive as I wanted to. We had to put Mo (Moses Edun) in there but he out-weighs Mo by 100 pounds.

"Being the great player that he is, he makes great moves and his big body takes up so much space," Dollard added. "Everything looks like a foul on him and the refs were giving him the calls. Pretty much he just had his way."

Auburn fought back and took the lead at 46-45 after five straight points capped off by a pair of free throws from Robertson.

For the next few series it was all Dollard for Auburn and Davis for LSU as there were four lead changes. Davis grabbed a Darrel Mitchell miss and put it back in for two to put LSU up 47-46. Dollard went to work on Davis on the other end, squaring him up for a baseline jumper. Davis bullied his way down low for an easy lay-in against the Auburn zone to retake the lead, but Dollard faced up Davis again on the other end for a baseline jumper as Auburn again led by a point.

Howell then stole the ball which led to a dunk by Dollard, and after another miss by Darrel Mitchell, LeMelle sank a long two from the corner to give Auburn a 56-51 lead with 8:07 to play.

Thomas, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, and Davis continued to pound the ball inside as LSU outscored Auburn 46-24 in the paint. LSU had zero points from the field that were between the three-point line and the paint. The Bayou Bengals also out-rebounded Auburn 37-26.

Dollard had 12 points for Auburn, all coming in the second half. Korvotney Barber had four points and 10 rebounds. Barrett, who has played with back problems for the whole season, had his second consecutive zero-rebound game, but did contribute eight points.

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