AU Looking for Road Victory Vs. LSU

Auburn's Wednesday night men's basketball game at LSU is previewed.

Baton Rouge, La.--Two teams that are off to less than spectacular starts in SEC play will face off in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST as Auburn (9-5, 0-2 SEC) is on the second game of a two-game road trip that started with its 72-56 loss to Florida on Saturday.

Auburn may have a solid chance to end its three-game losing streak as it takes on an LSU team that has lost its last five games and seven of its last nine as it deals with injury problems, too.

Auburn has lost three straight games in Baton Rouge, including last year's 65-63 nailbiter. AU defeated LSU in Auburn last year, 80-68, keeping LSU from sweeping the series, as one team has done in six of the last eight years.

Coach Jeff Lebo's team will almost be looking in a mirror on Wednesday as LSU is another team that has a depth problem.

"They are very similar to us," Lebo points out. "They have had injuries and numbers have been an issue. They're kind of going through the same thing we're going through. They lost Tasmin Mitchell and they lost (Chris) Johnson with a hand (injury), I guess."

Like Auburn, the Bayou Bengals still have several talented players left who are playing significant minutes. They are led by junior guard Garrett Temple (6-6, 185), who is in the school's Top 10 list in career assists and blocks. In the last four games, he has made 8-13 shots from behind three-point line.

"They've got (Anthony) Randolph (6-10, 190), who is one of the top freshmen in the country," Lebo says of the forward who is averaging 13.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. "They've got Temple, who has played a lot for them, and also Marcus Thornton (6-4, 190), one of the best junior college scorers coming in."

Marcus Thornton, a Baton Rouge native, is a transfer from Kilgore junior college in Texas.

Thornton is averaging 17.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest while Temple is averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 assists.

Auburn is dealing with the same injuries the Tigers have faced with big men Korvotney Barber and Boubacar Sylla out of action, but now there are concerns about how healthy starters Rasheem Barrett and Quan Prowell will be Wednesday night. Both have been taking over expanded duties as rebounders and scorers with the Tigers short on size and depth. Each averages 14.0 points per game, which tops all Auburn scorers.

Prowell injured his knee vs. Florida on Saturday and Barrett hurt his ankle vs. the Gators. Lebo says he expects both to see action vs. LSU, but doesn't know how close to full speed either will be.

LSU should match up well physically against Auburn considering the Bayou Bengals are a much taller team. LSU does not have a starter under 6-4, while Auburn starts two players, DeWayne Reed and Quantez Robertson, who are under 6-4.

Auburn has done well against teams that are not good in transition, and LSU fits that description. LSU has been out-rebounded in eight straight games before finally out-rebounding Miss. State on Jan. 9. Auburn out-rebounded both Arkansas and Florida, two teams that are taller than the undersized Tigers. Look for Auburn to try to attack LSU on the boards and to try to score in transition.

Unfortunately for Auburn, LSU has not been a team that turns the ball over very often this season. In each of its last two games, LSU has turned the ball over less than 10 times. Against Ole Miss, LSU only had eight. Auburn is a team that forces opponents to turn the ball over an average of 15.9 times a game.

Basketball notes: For the season, LSU is averaging 6.7 threes a game and 32.4 percent shooting threes...LSU needs 10 blocks to crack the Top 10 on the team single-season block list at 120...This year LSU is 1-4 in games decided by five points or less...LSU dressed eight players against Texas A&M (1/2), but had nine players in its last two games...Auburn returns home for a 4 p.m. Saturday game against a hot Ole Miss team.


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