NASHVILLE – The basketball Tigers' trip through the Music City went about as poorly as the football team's did several months ago.
LSU (22-10, 11-7), the four-seed in the SEC, lost a late lead and ultimately the game in overtime to 13-seed Auburn (15-19, 4-14) on Friday, 73-70, exiting the conference tournament in the quarterfinal round.
The return of sophomore forward Jordan Mickey didn't go much better than the action on the floor did.
Mickey, who sat out Saturday's win at No. 18 Arkansas with a bruised shoulder, started Friday and played 16 minutes before fouling out of the first game of his two-year LSU career.
The foul trouble was one thing. Inadvertently landing at the center of a near-donnybrook in the second half was another.
With 13:48 remaining in the game, Mickey and Auburn forward Jordan Granger got tangled up angling for a rebound of Keith Hornsby's jumper that ended up going in. What resulted was a Granger sucker punch that drew Mickey's ire and almost turned into a full-scale throw-down between Granger, Mickey and Tim Quarterman.
Referees and LSU head coach Johnny Jones quickly intervened. Granger was ejected and Mickey picked up a technical foul, sending him to the bench for more than seven minutes of game time with his fourth personal foul.
"We got tangled up. I tried to get free and just go down the court, and he ended up swinging," a dejected Mickey recalled postgame. "They ended up giving me a foul for something I didn't do. That's okay. That's part of the game."
Quarterman remembered the scenario vividly.
"I just saw (Granger) try to swing his arm around and hit Jordan, so I had to get over there as quickly as I could," Quarterman said, looking back. "That's my teammate. I've always got his back. We're like brothers out there. When that happened, I just felt like I had to step in and protect."
At the time LSU led 42-36. Auburn slowly chipped away at the Bayou Bengals' lead, and all Mickey could do was watch from the bench.
"I believe that did affect the game," Mickey explained of his fourth foul. "It took me out of the game, and I wasn't able to help my team like I wanted to and like I needed to be able to."
Mickey, who deemed his shoulder at 95 percent, finished with only one point, eight rebounds and a block against four turnovers.
His head coach didn't feel the injury affected Mickey or his level of production.
"I thought Jordan did a good job. He gave us some quality minutes out there on the floor," Jones remarked. "I didn't think his injury had anything to do with it. Probably time off may have been more of an issue for him than anything."
Mickey, LSU will await their postseason fate Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Mickey's return didn't go as expected
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