Auburn (11-9) at LSU (14-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Maravich Assembly Center (13,215) -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Auburn 10-3, LSU 10-2. Away Record: Auburn 1-5, LSU 2-4. Neutral Record: Auburn 0-1, LSU 2-1. Conference Record: Auburn 3-6, LSU 5-4. Series Record: LSU leads, 82-64.
GAME NOTES: SEC foes are set to square off at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday afternoon, as the LSU Tigers welcome the Auburn Tigers to Baton Rouge.
Auburn started its SEC slate of games ice-cold with losses in each of its first six league bouts, but since then it has turned things around in a hurry with three straight wins. It most recently took down South Carolina on Wednesday, 79-74, for its first road victory in six tries this season while improving to 11-9 overall.
LSU had been winners of four of its previous five games prior to its Thursday night bout at Georgia, which is dropped, 91-78. The squad has still been impressive this season with a 14-7 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the SEC while winning 10 of 12 contests at the Maravich Center.
LSU holds a 82-64 advantage in the all-time series, although Auburn took down the only meeting during the 2012-13 season, 68-63 on Jan. 9, 2013.
After building a 16-point lead early in the second half, Auburn saw that advantage slip away in the blink of an eye as South Carolina climbed back to tie the game with under eight minutes to play. Luckily it regained the advantage on its very next possession on a Tahj Shamsid-Deen layup and held on down the stretch for the five-point win. It shot a lofty 52.7 percent from the field in the triumph and were paced by a pair of 25-point efforts from KT Harrell and Chris Denson, with Denson shooting 8-of-12 from the field and Harrell adding six rebounds and six assists. Shamsid-Deen finished with 12 points and Allen Payne posted nine points and nine boards.
Auburn's scoring offense this season has been stellar, as it puts up 73.6 ppg on 45.6 percent shooting. Its downfall has been a lackluster scoring defense (71.2 ppg), although that number has improved during the three-game winning streak to just 65.3 ppg. Denson is the SEC's second-leading scorer with 19.8 ppg on 48.7 percent from the field. Harrell is hot on his heels with 19.5 ppg, making 49 3-pointers at a 40.2 percent clip, while draining 85.4 percent of his free throws. Payne (7.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is a solid presence in the paint.
LSU ran into a buzz saw at Georgia earlier in the week, as it was outshot from the field, 60 percent to 42.2 percent, and could never overcome a 13-point halftime deficit despite coming as close as three points of the lead in the second stanza. It drained nine 3-pointers on the night but was outscored at the free-throw line, 32-15. Andre Stringer and Jordan Mickey both poured in 19 points, with Stringer doing so on 4-of-7 from beyond the arc off the bench. Jarell Martin added 15 points to the losing effort.
It was far from a typical effort from LSU, which shoots 45.3 percent from the field for 77.2 ppg this season while allowing 70.9 ppg on just 39.9 percent shooting. It also lives in the green in terms of rebounding margin (+4.1) thanks to its formidable frontcourt duo of Johnny O'Bryant III (15.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and Mickey (13.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.7 bpg), who both shoot greater than 52 percent from the floor. Stringer brings 12.1 ppg to the table, while Martin, Shavon Coleman and Anthony Hickey all put up between 8.6 and 9.4 ppg to round out a balanced attack.
Auburn is playing very well of late and finally earned a road win earlier in the week, but that came against last-place South Carolina. Things will be much more difficult at the Maravich Center. Expect LSU to get back on the winning track in its return home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 78, Auburn 71
02/08 10:27:03 ET