Tay-rific Waller Sparks Tigers to SEC Win

Tay Waller's three-point shooting sparked the Auburn basketball team to a victory over LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior guard Tay Waller led the offense and freshman guard Earnest Ross was the star on defense as Auburn defeated LSU 74-59 in an SEC basketball game on Saturday night.

Tay Waller

Waller led all scorers with 26 points. He hit 8-13 field goals and made 6-10 threes and 4-5 free throws. In his last three games Waller has made 21-31 treys and has averaged 28 points.

"I haven't felt this good since my two years at Oklaloosa-Walton in junior college," Waller said. "I am in the zone now and I feel like I can't miss."

With starting guard Frankie Sullivan sidelined with a concussion he suffered after catching an elbow to the head in practice on Friday, Ross started in his place and drew the assignment of guarding LSU star Tasmin Mitchell.

Mitchell, the SEC's third-leading scorer, scored 38 points vs. Auburn in Baton Rouge and added 10 rebounds. However, on Saturday night, in the next-to-last men's basketball game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, Ross and teammates held Mitchell to six points and seven rebounds.

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said that Ross and the team as a whole did an excellent job of executing the defensive game plan vs. the Bayou Bengals. "You don't always want to put a freshman on a fifth-year senior, but it worked out well for us," said Lebo, who noted that freshman Andre Malone and sophomore transfer Tony Neysmith also helped out guarding Mitchell.

Auburn won its fourth straight home game and improved to 14-15 overall and 5-9 in the conference. LSU, which slipped to 1-13 in the SEC, is 10-18 overall.

Waller scored 14 in Auburn's 84-80 win over LSU in Baton Rouge last month, but is playing much better basketball in recent games.

"He's been on fire the last couple of games," Lebo said. "He has been unbelievable."

LSU coach Trent Johnson said, "Auburn played well. They shot the ball well. Their perimeter players have experience and we couldn't guard them in man or the zone.

"Their perimeter play was good," Johnson added. "They had quickness. It's a mystery to me why they lost nine games."

Auburn jumped to a 9-0 lead to start the game with Waller hitting a pair of treys and Reed adding a third.

"We have been getting a lead in a lot of games lately," Waller said.

At halftime the Tigers were on top 36-19 after making 50 percent of their shots while LSU made just 34.8 percent.

Waller led the first half charge with 13 points. He was 3-4 on threes.

Another key statistic was turnovers. At intermission the Tigers had just four while LSU turned it over nine times which the Tigers converted into 14 points.

Mitchell, who gave Auburn fits in the first Auburn vs. LSU game, got off just four shots in the first half and was scoreless at the break with Ross, Neysmith and Malone playing defense on him.

Mitchell, who sat nine minutes in the first half after getting two fouls, got into big foul trouble in the second half. He picked up his fourth with 10:57 to play and was gone at the 9:12 mark when he committed an offensive foul with Auburn up 54-42.

The Tigers built the lead to as many as 19 points in the second half and were never seriously threatened after halftime as a crowd that was announced as 8,927 watched the home team hit 51 percent from the field while making 13-28 threes.

LSU shot 47.1 percent from the field and made 4-14 threes.

Auburn hit 11-19 free throws while LSU made 7-9. LSU out-rebounded the Tigers 34-22, but committed 16 turnovers to just eight for the Tigers, who had nine steals led by four from Ross.

DeWayne Reed scored 12 points for the Tigers and Brendon Knox added 10. Ross led the Tigers in rebounds with six.

Bo Spencer sparked LSU with 23 points and six rebounds. Storm Warren added 14 points and six rebounds. Dennis Harris chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Game Notes: Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson and Gregg Olson received a big round of cheers from the fans at the coliseum when they were introduced during a timeout in the first half. Those three former baseball stars were inducted into the first class of the Auburn Baseball Wall of Fame on Saturday at Plainsman Park. Frank Thomas, who was also inducted into the Wall of Fame, had left earlier to catch a flight...At halftime dozens of former Tiger basketball lettermen were introduced. The athletic department was host for several functions for the group on Friday and Saturday... Women's basketball lettermen are also in town this weekend and will be honored on Sunday during the Kentucky at Auburn game that starts at 2 p.m. It will be the last women's basketball game at the coliseum with the AU teams moving into the new arena next season.

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