LSU (9-17 overall, 1-13 in SEC) vs. Auburn (16-11 overall, 5-9 in SEC)
WHEN: Tuesday, February 21 at 6 p.m. CT
WHERE: Maravich Center (Baton Rouge, La.)
TV/RADIO: SEC Network | 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
SERIES: LSU leads 85-66
LAST MEETING: Auburn won 78-74 on Jan. 18
The Tigers are looking for their first SEC home win this season still as LSU is looking to avoid its 14th straight loss on Tuesday. On Saturday, LSU dropped the team's matchup at Alabama 90-72 in a poor defense effort, yielding the Tide's largest first half point output and being able to match their season average for made three-pointers in the first half. Guard Antonio Blakeney has been an absolute tear the last four games, with 21 points or more including 28 against Alabama. One big surprise from the Alabama game was forward Brandon Eddlestone tying with Brandon Sampson for the lead in rebounds for the Tigers with six. Johnny Jones went deep into his bench against Alabama, getting plenty of players meaningful minutes throughout the game. The rough outing aside, LSU is playing a ton of different players and if they can piece together a decent defensive effort, have a real chance to beat Auburn with the way Blakeney is putting the team on his back offensively.
LSU coach Johnny Jones talks Auburn below.
Bruce Pearl brings his 8-5 record as a coach against LSU into Baton Rouge with his Tigers desperately needing some wins to build momentum down the stretch for his young squad. Auburn will set a team record in all likelihood for most freshman starts with Mustapha Heron leading the way. That young team is coming off a 19-point loss on the road to Texas A&M, a similar fate suffered to LSU's 30-point loss in College Station earlier this season. Auburn hit just 34 percent from the field while Heron lead the way with 20 points. Pearl's squad made 11 three-pointers though against the Aggies and with LSU's poor three-point defense, will look to replicate that in the Maravich Center on Tuesday night. It's worth noting that freshman big man Austin Wiley left the contest late and did not return, but could have if needed. Wiley had 10 points and six rebounds against LSU in the last time out.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl previews LSU below.
Key Auburn Players to Watch
G Mustapha Heron: Another five-star prospect at Auburn, Heron rebounded after a 9-point effort against Florida to have 20 points against Texas A&M and has averaged 15 points per game. Last time out against LSU, Heron had 12 points.
C Austin Wiley: The former five-star prospect is a tough matchup, but is coming off a game where he had just two points against one of the best big men in the SEC in Tyler Davis. Wiley will look to rebound against LSU on Tuesday.
G Ronnie Johnson: Over the last 13 games, the graduate transfer has averaged 11.1 points and 3.4 assists off the bench for the Tigers after averaging 2.4 points per game in the five games before that.
Projected Auburn Starters:
G Bryce Brown
G Jared Harper
G Mustapha Heron
F Danjel Purifoy
C Austin Wiley
Projected LSU Starters:
G Antonio Blakeney
G Brandon Sampson
G Skylar Mays
F Wayde Sims
F Duop Reath
Matchup to Watch
Duop Reath vs. Austin Wiley: This is going to be one of Reath's toughest tests of his season with the talented 6-11, 155-pound center coming to Baton Rouge. Last time out, LSU's front court in general with Aaron Epps, Elbert Robinson and Reath played well with Epps having a double-double, Robinson adding eight points in eight minutes and Reath having 13 points. Wiley meanwhile was held to 10 points. LSU will have to replicate that effort as Wiley is able to go off for a big night like he did at TCU for 25 points or against Alabama for 19 points. The former five-star prospect is a difference maker for Pearl's Tigers.
Keys to the Game
Finish. LSU held a double-digit lead in the first half at Auburn at one point, but let it slip away before getting down double digits on the Plains. Johnny Jones' team battled back, but it wasn't enough last time out, falling by four. In the PMAC and with this being one of the best remaining opportunities to grab a win, LSU has to finish this game strong. Whether the team is down or up, finishing against an Auburn team that struggles defensively just like LSU, can mean the difference between winning or losing.