Collis Temple III and Darrel Mitchell scored 19 points each as the Bengal Tigers placed six players in double-figures and made 16-of-25 three pointers in the game to run away with the game early and coast to the easy basketball victory.
Hoping to build on the success of Saturday's road win at Ole Miss, Auburn couldn't slow down LSU enough to stay close with the home team in the first half and that was the difference in the game. Troy Gaines came off the Auburn bench late to score 18 points on 5-of-5 shooting from three-point range in just nine minutes of action. Sophomore Marco Killingsworth scored 15 points and Marquis Daniels added 11 for Auburn as the Tigers were buried by an early onslaught of outside shots by the normally stagnant LSU perimeter offense.
Shooting 30.8 percent (62-201) from three-point range in conference play this season, LSU put that stat to bed by hitting 14 of its first 19 three-pointers and made 32-54 shots overall to finish the game 59.3 percent from the floor. A poor rebounding team as well this season, being outdone by opponents by almost four boards a game, the Bengal Tigers pounded Auburn on the glass all night, finishing with a 38-23 advantage.
LSU coach John Brady said his team has been playing well in recent games and noted that the big win over Auburn was a true team victory. "I have said all along we were taking quality shots, they just weren't going in," Brady said. "Now we have got some confidence. We made some baskets at South Carolina and the last five or six games we have started to play well. The confidence level, from an offensive standpoint, is there."
Brady said he liked the rebounding as his team was plus 15 in that category, but he loved the shooting statistics. "If you look at the stats, in the first half we were 17-23 from the field and we had 15 assists. That is almost incredible. For the game we made 32 field goals with 26 assists. That means that this team is playing unselfishly and sharing the ball."
In a first half that was worse than anything Auburn could have imagined. LSU drained 74 percent of its shots from the floor and 10-of-12 from three-point range to take a commanding 50-26 lead into the locker room at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Auburn was dominated on the boards 14-6 by LSU, but shot 48 percent from the floor thanks to a solid half by Daniels, who had all 11 of his points to lead the Tigers. Killingsworth added eight points, but the rest of the team managed just seven total points in a performance eerily similar to the Mississippi State game exactly one week ago.
Things looked like they would settle in nicely for the Tigers on the road when Daniels scored from in close on an offensive rebound to make the score 10-8 LSU with just over 15 minutes left in the half. Bright, a senior, had already made his first two shots from behind the arc and he would signal an onslaught from his teammates when he made his third three-pointer to put LSU up 17-8 just moments later. Collis Temple III got the message and hit a long range jumper only to be outdone by Darrel Mitchell with two of his own as LSU eventually built the lead to 16 at 33-17 with 7:30 left in the half. In just over seven minutes LSU outscored Auburn 23-9 to blow open a close game.
The visiting Tigers never got the lead under double figures again in the first half as they cut the lead to 11 on a Daniels three-pointer, but LSU scored the next 13 points of the game to lead 48-24. The two teams would trade baskets and Auburn had the ball to close the first half, but two close-range shots by Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson couldn't find the mark. Leading 50-26, LSU was looking for the early kill to start the second half.
If Auburn hoped to get back in the game in the first five minutes of the second half, the Tigers didn't get their wish. What they got was an introduction to what it feels like to get blown out. Picking up where they left off, LSU scored 22 of the first 28 points in the second half to build a 40-point lead at 72-32. The 72 points just 10 minutes into the second half was already seven more than the Bengal Tigers average in SEC play this season.
Trailing by 40 with less than eight minutes remaining, Gaines decided he might as well take some shots from the perimeter to get in some practice. What he may have found was the shooting stroke that was present early in the season. Making shots from all over the floor, he kept pace with LSU late and actually made the score somewhat respectable with his outburst the final minutes of the game.
With a chance to all-but-secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament with a victory, for the second time in three outings Auburn has been dominated by a fellow Western Division team. At 18-8 overall and 7-6 in conference play, Auburn likely needs a victory in one of its remaining three games to get into the big dance, but Wednesday night's performance likely means the magic number for the Tigers moves to 9-7. That doesn't look too good at the moment with Florida and a game at Mississippi State left on the schedule along with a home game against streaking Arkansas in between.
Auburn returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play the fourth-ranked Florida Gators at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The game can be seen on Jefferson-Pilot Sports.