PREVIEW: LSU vs. Auburn (SEC-T)

Two familiar foes will take center stage Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Preview the battle of the Tigers with TSD.

NASHVILLE - Aiming to improve its seed in the NCAA Tournament, and continue momentum, LSU (22-9, 11-7) will square off against suddenly hot Auburn (14-19, 4-14) Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.

Tipoff in Bridgestone Arena is set for 25 minutes after the early game between No. 1 Kentucky and Florida, the tournament’s eighth seed, concludes. UK-UF tip at Noon Central Time, putting the likely start time for LSU-Auburn near 2:30 p.m. The SEC Network will air the live broadcast.

The Tiger teams have split in the regular season with each squad winning on the other’s home floor. Auburn prevailed 81-77 in Baton Rouge on Feb. 5 before LSU returned the favor 84-61 on the Plains on Feb. 24.

Auburn advanced to Friday courtesy of two straight wins in Music City, dispatching of Mississippi State on Wednesday night and then taming a Danuel House-less Texas A&M less than 24 hours later, on Thursday afternoon.

Get ready for the game with projected starters and stats, matchup and personnel talk as well as video from LSU coach Johnny Jones on Pearl’s bunch.

PROJECTED STARTERS

LSU (22-9, 11-7)

G Tim Quarterman (So., 6-6, 187) – 11.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.0 apg
G Jalyn Patterson (Fr., 6-0, 173) – 6.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.2 apg
G Keith Hornsby (Jr., 6-4, 210) – 13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 spg
F Jarell Martin (So., 6-10, 235) – 16.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 51.5% FGs
F Jordan Mickey (So., 6-8, 235) – 16.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.7 bpg

Impact Reserve: G Josh Gray (Jr., 6-1, 182) – 7.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.0 apg

Auburn (14-19, 4-14)

G K.C. Ross-Miller (Sr., 6-0, 178) – 7.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.3 apg
G K.T. Harrell (Sr., 6-4, 212) – 18.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 43.5% 3s
G T.J. Lang (Fr., 6-7, 193) – 2.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 37.0% FGs
F Jordan Granger (Jr., 6-8, 210) – 4.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
F Cinmeon Bowers (Jr., 6-7, 278) – 12.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.1 spg

Impact Reserve: G Antoine Mason (Sr., 6-1, 216) – 14.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.1 spg

TALK OF CHALK

- Jones said Thursday that Mickey will be a go for LSU (see video below) after missing Saturday’s game at Arkansas with a bruised shoulder. The only disclaimer, issued by Jones: “We don’t know what level he’ll be able to play, but he’ll certainly be on the floor for us.” The prediction here: Mickey starts and is able to play more than half the game but not to his season average of 35.4 minutes, which is tops of the team. Auburn isn’t terribly big or deep in the post, but Bowers is a rebounding load inside. So any deficiencies that Mickey has, or if he has to sit for longer stretches than usual, it will fall on Darcy Malone and, more likely, Brian Bridgewater, to keep a body on Bowers and keep him off the offensive glass.

- No player in the SEC, with the possible exception of LSU’s Martin, has been as hot in the last week or two than Harrell for Auburn. The senior’s point totals over his last five, starting with the oldest game: 18, 24, 24, 19, 25. For the Plainsmen’s two-game trip to Nashville so far, Harrell is a combined 6-of-10 from three, 16-of-21 from the charity stripe. Need more proof he’s a dangerous man? In two games against LSU this season Harrell has struck for a combined 42 points. Odds are Quarterman draws the assignment, but he’s good enough that Jones & Co. will have to consider occasional doubles and ways to chase him from the three-point line.

- Another area of concern for the purple-and-gold Tigers is turning the ball over. LSU has been a noticeably better team at valuing possessions since Quarterman took over the bulk of the point guard duties. Lately Gray has re-entered the mix – and Jones said Thursday he’s continuing to earn his way back into good graces and more playing time – so Gray will have to play like he did at Arkansas (five assists, one turnover). Otherwise Auburn is a team that can drive you crazy. On Thursday War Eagle forced Texas A&M into 19 turnovers, turning those gifts into 18 points. That’s the kind of thing that can level the playing field between LSU, which has better frontline talent, and Auburn.

WHAT LSU’S SAYING

In the video below Jones discussed Mickey’s status, the reasons Auburn has gotten hot in Nashville and the keys for LSU in the quarterfinal matchup.




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