"It was ball movement," said sophomore Rasheem Barrett. "We moved the ball as a team and we played as a team and we shared the juice as Lebo called it. As we walked out of the locker room he said, ‘Share the juice. Share the juice.'"
Barrett contributed 14 points to tie Frank Tolbert for the lead in scoring. All five starters scored in double figures along with substitute forward Josh Dollard, who added 11 points and six rebounds in his second game back from a suspension.
Barrett said having the 6-7 forward back on the court is a big plus for the Tigers. "Rebounds, defense, points--having that big body down there helps a whole lot," Barrett said of Dollard.
The Tigers got 13 points and three blocked shots from Korvotney Barber and 10 points apiece from guards DeWayne Reed and Quantez Robertson. Robertson had nine assists, two steals and just two turnovers. Reed had five assists, three steals and just two turnovers.
As a team the Tigers shot 57.4 percent from the field to improve their record to 6-2. Louisiana-Monroe, which fell to 3-5, hit just 35.8 percent from the field.
Frank Tolbert stuffs for the Tigers.
Auburn nailed 11-23 treys, quite an improvement of from 5-25 shooting the previous game. Lebo liked that and other things he saw.
"Offensively, that was the best game we have played all year," Lebo stated. "We shot the ball well, but we got good looks. We moved the ball and passed the ball well.
"Defensively, I thought we bothered them," Lebo added. "They struggled with everything. They didn't make shots. I thought we got nice balance. Six guys in double figures and one guy (Archie Miaway) one point away from it."
The big negative for the Tigers was foul shooting. The Tigers hit just 8-17 free throws.
"I was worried about this game, too," Lebo said. "We didn't have much juice today in walk-through and warmups, but for the most part I thought we played pretty well."
Next up for the Tigers is a Sunday home game against the Pitt Panthers (ranked second in the AP Top 25), who will be the second highest ranked non-conference team to ever play in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The highest was South Carolina in 1969 before the Gamecocks joined the SEC.
"I think they are excited about it," Lebo said of playing the Panthers, a powerhouse team that embarrassed the Tigers last year in Pittsburgh. "It will be interesting to see how we act and respond." Lebo noted the players talked about playing the 7-0 Panthers immediately after defeating Louisiana-Monroe.
Guard Tony Hooper led the losers with 16 points. Jonas Brown added 14 for the Warhawks.
Unlike Tuesday night vs. Nicholls State the Tigers shot well early and led most of the first half.
The Tigers steadily extended their lead which reached double figures with seven minutes left to play in the half on a three-pointer from the corner by Barrett.
On the next possession the Auburn sophomore, who was playing with a sore knee, stole a pass and went the distance for a layup to put the Tigers on top 34-21.
The Tigers built the lead to 14 points, but Warhawks cut the gap to eight points with 36 seconds left on a turnaround jumper by David Garrison. Auburn played for the final shot of the half and executed it beautifully. Robertson beat his defender with a spin move and the threw a pass to Tolbert, who nailed an uncontested buzzer-beater for three to give the Tigers a 44-33 edge at intermission.
At the break the Tigers were hitting an impressive 54.8 percent of their shots, including 7-14 three-pointers. The Warhawks hit 37.9 percent in the first half and made 5-15 treys. AU enjoyed a 17-16 rebounding edge and had nine turnovers, one less than the visitors.
The Tigers got off to a sluggish start to the second half, but recovered and pushed the lead back into double figures. The Tigers pushed the lead out to 57-40 at the 8:51 mark on a three-point basket from the wing by Robertson prompting a timeout from Louisiana-Monroe coach Orlando Early. However, the Warhawks didn't make a run and the Tigers cruised to a comfortable victory.