Auburn Takes Care of Business in Finale

Auburn beat 11th-ranked LSU 69-53 on Senior Day in Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.—Auburn defeated SEC regular season champion LSU on Senior Day 69-53 in another Auburn-like game of solid defense and hustle. The win gave Auburn a 21-10 overall record and 10-6 league record to finish the regular season.

The Tigers forced 14 LSU turnovers, out-rebounded the bigger LSU team 45-37 and held the Fighting Tigers to just 17-53 shooting from the floor. LSU's Tasmin Mitchell was held to a season low of just five points with only one field goal.

"I think they take pride in the fact that they call themselves grinders," Jeff Lebo says of his players. "They just kind of grind them out. There's nothing real fashionable about those kids. They've been through some hard times and they've been through adversity. I think that really shows a lot about a kid, because you're going to go through some adversity, and how you handle that, to me, tells a lot about you as a person. These guys have been through that."

It was the final home game in the careers of Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett, Quantez Robertson and walk-on Drew Smith. Barber led the Tigers with 16 points and 17 rebounds.

"He was unbelievable," Lebo said of Barber. "He's so active on the offensive glass. I think he had five offensive rebounds in the first half. He was all over the glass with his quickness."

Despite being the smaller team, all of Auburn's points in the first half came from either the free throw line or field goals in the paint area. With LSU sending two defenders to the dribbler on screens, Auburn used the pick and roll often and early to get to the basket.

"We do a lot of pick and roll," Lebo noted. "It's just something with the way they defended with the hard, up-field hedge, that we would be able to get some stuff against it. We were very efficient with it tonight and we got to the rim a lot."

Barber was also able to get several buckets taking it to shot-blocker Chris Johnson in the half court offense.

"Chris Johnson likes to play behind," Barber explained. "They just told me to go at him and attack instead of fading away from him. Just go at him. My teammates gave me the ball and I made the best of it the times I touched the ball.

"Not every night is going to be an ‘on night' for our shooters," Barber added. "We have to do other things. We have to set screens and get other people open. I think we did a pretty good job in the second half knocking down big shots."

Barrett was the second-leading scorer for Auburn on Saturday with 12 points. Point guard DeWayne Reed added 11.

Marcus Thornton, who came in averaging 20.9 points per game, scored 23, but the key for Auburn was shutting down Mitchell. Barber and Hargrove, both long defenders, were matched up with Mitchell, which left Auburn guards to man up on the 6-11 Johnson. However, he only had two points because of foul trouble.

"Defensively is where we were really solid," Lebo noted. "We spent a lot of time in preparation. They were fresh on our minds from when we played before. They're a very, very physical time and I thought Vot was terrific, because he spent the majority of the time on Mitchell."

It was a rugged, physical man-to-man defensive game and was tied at 19-19 with under six minutes to play in the first half. However, Auburn went on a 12-2 run to open up the lead that it would never relinquish. Auburn's smallest lead after that was near the end of the first half at 32-28.

Reed hit a jumper with a few seconds remaining in the opening half and LSU coach Trent Johnson helped Auburn by picking up a technical coming off the court.

Tay Waller, who had nine points for Auburn, hit both free throws to start the second stanza. Waller's three with just under 16 minutes remaining gave his team a 17-point advantage at 51-34.

With LSU making just 7-27 from the floor in the second half, the game was never in doubt after the Tigers' built their big lead.

Auburn struggled to make open shots and was just 2-16 on threes, but the Tigers did everything else well. Reed was just 1-8 behind the arch, but had just one turnover. It was his third turnover in the last five games.

Robertson had six points and four rebounds on Senior Day. Smith, who dressed for the first time all year, had a defensive rebound.

Auburn will be the No. 2 seed in the West in the SEC Tournament in Tampa, which starts on Thursday. The Tigers get a bye in the first round and on Friday will play the winner of Florida and Arkansas. That game is scheduled for 9:45 Eastern, but will likely start between 10 to 10:15 p.m.

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