LSU (9-2) at Auburn (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Auburn Arena (9,121) -- Auburn, Alabama. Television: CSS. Home Record: LSU 8-0, Auburn 5-3. Away Record: LSU 1-2, Auburn 0-1. Neutral Record: LSU 0-0, Auburn 1-3. Conference Record: LSU 0-0, Auburn 0-0. Series Record: LSU leads, 82-63.
GAME NOTES: The LSU Tigers and Auburn Tigers are set to tip off their SEC schedules on Wednesday night, as the two teams square off at Auburn Arena.
LSU opened the season on a six-game homestand, and it took full advantage by winning all six matchups. After slipping up in two of three tilts on the road, it returned home recently to notch back-to-back wins to move to 9-2.
LSU took on Bethune-Cookman last Saturday, and it never trailed on the way to a 79-63 victory. The Tigers shot better than 52 percent from the field in the triumph, which helped make up for 16 turnovers. Charles Carmouche put forth a fantastic all-around effort by contributing 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four assists and three 3-pointers. Shavon Coleman tallied a double- double consisting of 14 points and 12 boards, Anthony Hickey also scored 14 points, and Andrew Del Piero finished with 10.
Auburn's season has been defined by its streakiness, as it has already racked up a four-game losing streak and two three-game winning streaks. After dropping back-to-back bouts to Winthrop (74-67) and Illinois (81-79), the Tigers improved to 6-7 on the campaign with an impressive 78-72 win over Florida State on Jan. 2.
After trailing the Seminoles at the half, Auburn took control after the break thanks in part to its 22 made free throws. It finished the game 28-of-41 from the line, while FSU was only 7-of-15. Frank Sullivan scored 24 points in the win, a performance which helped him earn SEC Player of the Week honors. Allen Payne tallied 17 points and seven rebounds, Rob Chubb had eight points and 10 boards, and Josh Wallace pitched in with six points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals.
These two teams have split the season series in each of the past two years, leaving LSU with an overall advantage of 82-63.
When analyzing the numbers, it's clear why LSU has had such a strong season as it holds positive margins in scoring (plus-9.5), rebounding (plus-4.0) and turnovers (plus-1.2), and its scoring average of 77.5 ppg ranks fifth in the SEC. A balanced team effort is paced by Coleman, who accounts for 14.1 ppg and 8.6 rpg, and he is also active at the defensive end with 1.4 bpg and 1.7 spg. Johnny O'Bryant III is also effective in the frontcourt with 12.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg, while Andre Stringer (11.7 ppg) has made 42.2 percent of his 3-point attempts. Hickey (10.7 ppg) and Carmouche (9.8 ppg) combine to hand out 7.7 apg and log nearly six steals per contest.
Auburn hasn't nearly been as potent at the offensive end of the court this season, as it averages 68.9 ppg, but is still able to boast a positive scoring margin thanks to a solid effort at the defensive end which yields 64.8 ppg. Sullivan has been on a hot streak of late, scoring 20 points or more in three straight games, which currently situates him as the SEC's second-ranked scorer (17.8 ppg). He also contributes elsewhere, tallying 4.1 rpg, 3.4 rpg and 1.2 spg. After missing the first seven games of the season, Chris Denson has returned to average 15.2 ppg, but now he is out again with a foot injury as he is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. In his absence, Chubb (9.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Payne (7.9 ppg) will need to increase their production.
While LSU has performed well this season, most of its wins have come at home. Following a confidence-building home win over Florida State, Auburn will carry that momentum into this one to move back to .500 overall.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 68, LSU 66
01/09 10:33:58 ET