Back to basics

The LSU men's basketball team tries to get back on the winning track Saturday against one of the hottest teams in the Southeastern Conference as LSU and Auburn meet at 3 p.m. in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

LSU has already captured the Southeastern Conference regular season title with 13 consecutive wins in the league before a 75-67 loss to Vanderbilt in the final home game in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.


LSU is 25-5 overall, 13-2 in the league and ranked 11th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 12th in the AP media poll.


Auburn has surged as of late with seven wins in the last eight games, with their only loss a 79-72 decision to LSU in Baton Rouge just two weeks ago. In that game, Auburn had a four-point second half lead in the last 10 minutes before the Tigers stormed back to get the win.


The Tigers of Auburn are 20-10 and 9-6 in the league and have moved into second place and looking for an NCAA post-season bid with a win Saturday and a couple of SEC Tournament victories.


Coach Trent Johnson is hopeful his team can again find the defensive attitude it showed during its early part of the SEC run.


“We’ve got to get back to basics on defense,” he said. “When the ball goes down, it hides what’s going on at the other end of the floor.”

Unfortunately the ball wasn’t going down against Vanderbilt as LSU shot just 36 percent from the floor.


“Teams that have had success against us did the same thing as Vanderbilt did,” Johnson said. “They attacked us in the post and they beat us off the dribble in the perimeter. Our rotations on defense were not good. We had a lack of urgency on the defensive end. It was not our effort. It you look at five of our last six games, we haven’t been that good on defense. Auburn really put us back on our heels (in the first meeting).


The Auburn Tigers are led by forward Korvotney Barber, one of four seniors who will be honored prior to the game, who is the only player in the Southeastern Conference averaging almost a double-double (12.7 points, 9.6 rebounds). DeWayne Reed is averaging 13.2 points and 3.8 assists as one of four guards Auburn starts and Tay Waller is averaging 12.5 points.


Marcus Thornton is averaging 31.5 points in his last two games against Auburn and leads the Tigers at 20.9 points a game, while Tasmin Mitchell is posting 16.8 a game and Bo Spencer 11.9 a game.


“We just need to ratchet it up a notch defensively,” Johnson said. “We have to keep grinding. Auburn has some very underrated perimeter players. This time of year, you play good people and then even better people. You have to step it up if you can.”


The Tigers will next play at the SEC Tournament in Tampa on Friday, March 13, against the winner of the first-round matchup between the West No. 5 team and the East No. 4 squad at 1 p.m. (EST), Noon (CST).



LSU (25-5, 13-2) at Auburn (20-10, 9-6)

March 7, 2009 3 p.m. CST

Beard-Eaves memorial Coliseum – Auburn, Ala.



LSU Projected Starters
G – Marcus Thornton (6-4, 205, Sr.) 20.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg

G – Garrett Temple (6-6, 190, Sr.) 7.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg

G – Bo Spencer (6-1, 185, So.) 11.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.6 apg

C – Chris Johnson (6-11, 210, Sr.) 8.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg

F – Tasmin Mitchell (6-7, 235, Jr.) 16.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg


Key Reserves

G – Chris Bass (6-0, 180, Fr.) 1.0 ppg, 1.6 apg

G – Terry Martin (6-6, 210, Sr.) 4.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg

G – Alex Farrer (6-5, 205, Jr.) 1.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg

F – Quintin Thornton (6-9, 225, Sr.) 2.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg

F – Storm Warren (6-7, 220, Fr.) 2.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg

F – Delwan Graham (6-5, 215, Fr.) 1.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg


Auburn Probable Starters

G Tay Waller (6-2, 180, Jr.) 12.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.6 apg

G Quantez Robertson (6-3, 200, Sr.) 5.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg

G Rasheem Barrett (6-5, 200, Sr.) 9.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg

G DeWayne Reed (6-1, 175, Jr.) 13.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.8 apg

F Korvotney Barber (6-7, 225, Sr.) 12.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg


Key Reserves

G – Frankie Sullivan (6-1, 185, Fr.) 7.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg

F – Lucas Hargrove (6-6, 205, Jr.) 8.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg

F – Brendon Knox (6-10, 220, Jr.) 2.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg

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