LSU trounces sloppy Auburn, 75-58

LSU threw a defensive monkey wrench into the Auburn game plan and was able to rush out to a 16-point lead in the first half Saturday afternoon at the Maravich Assembly Center. Despite a few brief Auburn rallies, LSU held on for a 75-58 win to improve its record to 12-5 (2-2 Southeastern Conference).

LSU coach John Brady noticed in game film from earlier this season that Auburn had problems with Vanderbilt when the Commodores double-teamed the Tigers off their perimeter screen and hand-off plays. Choosing to counter Auburn (9-7, 1-4) with the same defensive scheme for the entire game, LSU forced the visiting Tigers to turn the ball over 22 times in the game, leading to 20 LSU points.

"I thought all of our guys played well, particularly defensively and rebounding the ball," Brady said. "It was a good win for us to come off the Florida game ... This game tonight has nothing to do with how we're going to play at Ole Miss. I don't think you can coach depending on one game to affect another. Each game has its own set of circumstances and scenarios. Just because you lose one weekend, it doesn't mean you're going to play poorly the next weekend."

Ronald Dupree led the LSU offensive attack, putting up 25 points through a 10-of-19 performance, while Torris Bright added 16 points, including a pair of three pointers. Brad Bridgewater had a breakout half, scoring 11 first-half points - including the game's first seven - on his way to 13 total points.

An injured Collis Temple III had an off night offensively, but contributed to the victory with 10 rebounds and six assists. His latest ailment is a sore hip that he suffered after hitting the court hard near the end of the Florida game. Temple is also still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in December.

"(Temple) didn't practice for two days," Brady said. "I could tell late in the game (his ankle) stiffened on him some. I thought when he shot that last shot he broke his leg ... For him to play 28 minutes and get ten rebounds, six assists and three turnovers is pretty good for a guy that couldn't walk after the Florida game."

Junior guard Adam Harrington led Auburn with 14 points, while freshman Brandon Robinson and sophomore Kyle Davis each had 10.

LSU took it to Auburn from the tip-off when Dupree fed a low-posting Bridgewater, who slammed the ball down with a one-handed jam. Bridgewater was fouled trying another dunk two minutes later, draining both of his free throws. The 6-8 junior from New Roads scored three more unanswered points to give LSU a 7-0 lead with 16:30 to play in the half.

Bridgewater became the key for LSU's offense early in the game when assistant coaches Kermit Davis and Butch Pierre noticed he wasn't being guarded in the post. To take advantage of the situation, the Tigers called their "power" play which got the ball inside to Bridgewater, who sealed off his man in the paint and usually had a clear path to the basket less than three feet away.

"I thought Brad Bridgewater was a key for us in the way he played and rebounded the ball," Brady said. "He had some points early then he spread his points out. He had seven rebounds, five offensive rebounds, which got us going a bit on the glass. I thought he played well."

"They've got to pay attention to him," Dupree said of Bridgewater. "You can't let a guy continue to dunk the ball on your goal. I saw they were double-teaming me early, so I just dished it off to him. A lot of times, I'm able to feed him early in the game because teams are just focused on me."

Auburn recorded nine turnovers in the first nine minutes, including five LSU steals, and shot only 2-for-11 (18.2 percent).

"We didn't come out right," Auburn guard Derrick Bird said. "We got down in the hole and it was tough. We fought back, but they started hurting us and we couldn't get going from there."

"Today was the toughest ballgame we've had," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "It was the weakest game we've had. Sometimes, unfortunately, that happens. But there's no question that this was our weakest game."

LSU increased its lead to 16 when Antonio Hudson drove through traffic into the paint from the baseline and jammed it home. With 10:16 to go in the half, LSU led 20-4.

Just when it seemed that Auburn had not shown up at all, the visiting Tigers went on a 7-0 run capped by Adam Harrington's dunk to make the score 20-11 at the 7:33 mark.

Auburn was able to come within four on free throws by Kyle Davis, but a three-pointer by Bright and an alley-oop two-handed jam by a high-flying Dupree increased LSU's lead to 10, 27-17.

LSU led by as many as 14 points in the remaining minutes of the half, but a 8-2 Auburn run made the halftime score 36-28.

Defense reigned for the first two minutes of the second half, as neither team was able to make a basket. More poor ball handling by Auburn allowed LSU to increase its lead to 12 on a jumper by Dupree at the 13:48 mark.

The Plainsmen were able to cut LSU's lead to six on a Bird free throw with 7:58 remaining, but that was as close as Auburn would get for the remainder of the afternoon.

Three free throws by Temple gave the Tigers a double-digit lead, 60-48, at the 5:38 mark. With one tick on the shot clock, Bright drove through the lane and executed a brilliant underhanded lay-up, was fouled and converted the three-point play to put his Tigers up 65-51 with 3:42 to play in the game.

Auburn came only as close as 13 points on a three-pointer by Lincoln Glass at 1:38, but free throws by LSU led to the final tally of 75-58.

"We're getting better as the SEC season goes along," said Bright. "We learned a lot from the Florida loss. We learned just to run our offense, and when they're pressing us, just attack the press and get what we can get out of it. Play smart and just play better. When you play against good teams, you can learn from your mistakes."

"This is a great start - 2-2 isn't just a great start in the league," Brady said. "It's the best start I've had since I've been here. That's improvement.

"We were 1-3 the year we won our league, and things turned out our way. I'm not saying we're going to win the league. Please don't quote me on that. But we haven't been 2-2 since I've been here. I told the team that. That's an accomplishment. It's not like we've played bad teams. The first four teams have been pretty good."

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