BATON ROUGE – LSU posted 55 second-half points, with five treys and 26 free throws in the second half to rally from a point down at halftime to score an 87-80 win over Auburn Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers are now 15-7 on the season, 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference, while Auburn is now 11-10 and 3-7 in the league. LSU is now 5-1 in the league at home, winners of five straight in the building.
Five LSU players scored in double figures with Johnny O'Bryant III and Jordan Mickey both posting double doubles on the afternoon. JOB III had his fifth of the year with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Mickey had his seventh double up of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Stringer off the bench made 10-of-12 free throws and finished with 18 points and seven assists while Anthony Hickey had 17 points with five treys.Jarell Martin made it three straight double figure games for the second time this year with 11 points.
Auburn was paced by Chris Denson who had 19 first half points, but was held to 10 in the second half to finish with 29 points. KT Harrell had 19 and Tahj Shamsid-Deen had 16.
LSU shot 45.6 percent for the game (26-of-57), including 8-of-21 from the arc (5-of-10 in the second half). Ole Miss finished the game at 40.3 percent (29-of-72) after shooting just 35 percent in the second half. Auburn was 6-of-23 (26.1%) from the arc.
After the teams combined to shoot two free throws in the first half, there were 59 free throws in the final 20 minutes with LSU making 26-of-36 (72.2%) in the half and Auburn 16-of-23 (69.6%).
Auburn won the battle in the paint, 42-26, and in points off turnovers, 22-11.
The first half started out good for Auburn as Denson and Harrell combined to get the visiting Tigers off to a 6-1 advantage. Martin got the first of his points on a dunk but then Harrell hit a trey and Denson got a dunk and the Auburn margin was 11-3.
LSU would eventually get his offense in gear, down 15-10, when Martin would hit a jumper followed by a Mickey layup. Martin and O’Bryant III would hit back-to-back layups to give the Tigers an 18-15 advantage completing an 8-0 run for LSU.
But the teams traded buckets with LSU up 22-19 before Denson had a layup and Auburn had back-to-back treys to make it 27-22 with 4 minutes left. Auburn continued to take advantage of LSU misses and get a couple of run outs to go up 31-27 before Hickey hit his second trey to cut the Auburn lead to 31-30 with 1:18 to play.
Auburn then turned the ball over and Stringer went coast-to-coast to give LSU a 32-31 advantage. But Denson, who had 19 first half points drove the lane and laid it up to give Auburn back a 33-32 lead. On its final possession of the half, Stringer missed a three for the halftime margin of one to the visitor.
The LSU Tigers came out to start the second half after an Auburn miss, LSU connected on a Hickey three to make it 35-33 LSU. But Auburn countered with a bucket, an LSU turnover and a bucket and foul to put Auburn back up three, 38-35, with 18:50 remaining in the game. But JOB III countered with a bucket and a free throw to tie the game for the second time at 38-38.
Auburn missed two shots and Mickey got a bucket to give LSU the lead, 40-38. After an Auburn turnover, JOB III found Hickey for his fourth trey of the game and LSU was up five, 43-38. Two free throws extended the LSU lead to 45-38 at the 15:54 mark.
Denson, who had 19 points in the first half, did not have any points for Auburn in the first five minutes of the second half.
LSU continued to keep Auburn at bay, getting the seven point lead back at 55-48 with 11:32 to go, but Denison got his first points of the half on Auburn’s next possession before two JOB III free throws boosted LSU back up 57-50 at the 10:55 mark. After an Auburn miss, an LSU free throw made it 58-50, LSU’s biggest lead that extended to 11 when Stringer hit a three to force an Auburn time out at the 10:11 mark with LSU up, 61-50.
LSU had gotten in the double bonus 10 minutes into the second half and had 18 free throw attempts in the first 12 minutes of the half, getting as much as a 14-point lead in the final four minutes.
The game turned into a battle of the free throw line but the Tigers were able to get key buckets down the stretch to stop an Auburn comeback from getting any closer than five points in the final minutes.
LSU will be no worse than a two or three-way tie for fourth at the end of the evening heading to a week on the road beginning Wednesday at Texas A&M and then next Saturday at Arkansas. LSU doesn’t play again in the Maravich Center until Wednesday, February 19, against Mississippi State.