Lebo: LSU Talented But Struggling

At 16-13 and 6-8 in the SEC Auburn is a game out of first place in the West with two games to play. Wednesday night's game against LSU is crucial for the Tigers' Western Division and postseason aspirations.

Auburn, Ala.--LSU travels to Auburn tied with South Carolina at 4-10 for the worst record in the SEC. The Bengal Tigers will also be without their best player, Glen Davis, who according to The Shreveport Times practiced Monday and Tuesday but did not make the trip to Auburn because of a "quadriceps injury."

However, John Brady was without Davis in the previous two games where they almost won at Rupp Arena and on Saturday beat the No. 4 ranked Florida Gators 66-56.

"When you hold a team that's as explosive as Florida to 56 points you're going to have a chance to win," says Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "They have been solid defensively most of the year.

"I think defensively they're as good as anybody," Lebo continues. "Garrett Temple is as good of a perimeter defensive player as anybody in the country. They're physical, they rebounded with Florida and they defended them."

The Gators lost again at Tennessee on Tuesday night 86-76 after trailing by as much as 27 points.

The strength of the LSU team is in its size and athleticism as they have allowed just one of 14 SEC opponents to score more than 72 points. On Jan. 13 at the Maravich Center, LSU held Auburn to 63 points and won by two when a Kelvin Lewis three-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer.

"They're very physical," Lebo says. "Their guards are big. Temple is long and he plays like he's 6-9 out there. He can block shots, he can guard a big guy, he can guard a small guy, he can guard the ball or off the ball. He's a guy that just shut down J.J. Redick (in last year's Sweet 16). They've got size in the backcourt and inside they've got length and shot blockers. They're just a physical team and they play a majority of their stuff man-to-man so you know what you're going to get."

LSU lost Tyrus Thomas, the No. 4 pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2007 NBA Draft, and Darrel Mitchell off of last year's team that made it to the Final 4. Thomas was more of a defensive presence inside but Mitchell was the oil that kept the engine running offensively. Even with Davis and other talented players like Tasmin Mitchell and Terry Martin, who had 23 points against Auburn earlier this season, the Bayou Bengals have struggled late in games during the 2006-2007 season. They have lost nine of the last 11 games, but the last seven losses have been by just an average of 4.3 points.

"Defensively they are very solid," Lebo notes. "This year offensively they've struggled putting the ball in the basket at crucial times. It's been the difference. They've lost a lot of close games and one of the reasons is that Mitchell made so many key shots at the end of games--in the last five minutes of the game--that made a big difference for them."

Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and there will no television coverage.


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