Auburn Upset Attempt Falls Short at LSU

Auburn, in search of its fifth-straight SEC victory, lost at LSU on Saturday. The LSU Tigers have won 11-consecutive conference games.

Baton Rouge, La.—Auburn came up short in an upset attempt at #23 LSU at the Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday night, falling to the SEC-leading LSU Tigers 79-73.

Down 71-68 late in the contest, a Lucas Hargrove three pointer missed and the Fighting Tigers hit their free throws to pull away to secure the victory. Trent Johnson's Tigers hit 21-22 free throws for the game, including 20-21 in the second half and 10-10 in the final four minutes.

Auburn was 7-13 from the foul line for the game and 5-11 in the second half.

"They played their tail off," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said of his team. "With a minute to go in the game we had an open shot to tie the basketball game. We competed awfully hard. We battled. Foul shots obviously hurt us. They made 21-22. We were 7-13. I was proud of the way we responded and I was proud of our team. We did a lot of good things tonight and hopefully we can learn from this.

"I told my team at the end of the game in the locker room that we can't let this linger," Lebo added. "We played our butt off and had a chance to win on the road. We did a lot of good things and we can build upon this loss."

With Auburn struggling to get a defensive stop against a talented LSU team, free throws were crucial down the stretch. However, Quantez Robertson continued to struggle from the foul line missing two clutch attempts down four points with 4:48 to play as Auburn failed to make up ground on the scoreboard.

Robertson has made just 7-23 free throws in SEC play.

"Overall I think we did a lot of good things," Lebo noted. "We can build upon this and it's frustrating for our kids. It really is as hard as we played and as well as we played. We played pretty well, but free throws... It's been that kind of year for us. We'd have a lot better record this year if we could make some free throws, or just shoot average. It's been really frustrating and hard to watch."

LSU, which has outrebounded 11 of 12 SEC opponents, beat Auburn on the boards 41-29.

"They hurt us on some offensive rebounds when we had to double team on the post," Lebo said. "You really have to double team (Tasmin) Mitchell in there. We were very small when we doubled because our two big guys are the guys doubling. They got some shots out of that. We were real little when the shot went up."

All five LSU starters scored in double figures led by guard Marcus Thornton, who had a quiet 25 points and seven rebounds. Mitchell had 14 points, seven boards while point guard Bo Spencer hurt Auburn early and finished with 14 points.

Korvotney Barber led Auburn in scoring with 19. Tay Waller was hot early, but had a difficult time finding open threes in the second and finished with 17. DeWayne Reed added 16.

LSU jumped on Auburn early taking an early 5-0 edge in rebounding and 16-8 advantage in points, but Auburn fought back and never trailed by 10 points or more.

Halfway through the second half Tay Waller hit a pair of 15-foot jumpers to give Auburn a 56-52 lead, but LSU showed why they've been so dominant at home, scoring on nearly every offensive possession down the stretch.

"They punched us in the mouth to start. They were very good offensively and they were very efficient offensively. They're physical defensively, but they're very physical offensively with Thornton on the post-ups and Tasmin Mitchell in there. I liked the way we responded and got right back into the basketball game. We were down three at the half."

LSU is now 23-4 and 11-1 in the SEC. Auburn dropped to 17-10 and 6-6 in conference games with Ole Miss visiting Beard-Eaves at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

"We're getting ready to play Ole Miss at home, probably one of the most underrated teams in our league," Lebo said. "They are a very, very, very good basketball team. They hammered us pretty good. We've got to get ready, move forward, and I think we're playing our playing basketball."

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