Observations: Auburn 67, LSU 49
Outside of one tough stretch, the Tigers took care of business in Baton Rouge and got a rare dominant road win in SEC play.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Steven Leonard/Auburn Athletics)
BATON ROUGE, La. — Even though there were more than 14 minutes left on the clock, Bruce Pearl wanted to go 2-for-1.
He had just watched LSU hit a second-chance 3-pointer to cut what was once a 15-point Auburn lead back down to 2. On the other end of the floor, Zep Jasper got an offensive board off an Allen Flanigan 3-point miss and laid it back in.
Pearl quickly called a 30-second timeout, which was stretched to a full commercial break.
“I called a timeout knowing I had a TV timeout coming, knowing I was going to get two timeouts in there,” Pearl said. “Because that starting group — Wendell and Zep, Al, Jaylin and Johni — did not come out the start of the second half and guard them. They just didn’t. But they were fatigued. They played a lot of minutes in the first half.
“So I called a timeout to give us two timeouts. I wanted those guys to towel down, I wanted them rested, and I wanted this thing over.”
Out of the timeout, Auburn immediately turned defense to offense. Johni Broome poked the ball away from former OVC rival K.J. Williams, and he ran the floor to get a lead pass from Wendell Green Jr. His layup attempt was goal-tended by LSU, which meant that there was another stoppage in play — and the under-16 media timeout.
And out of that timeout, K.D. Johnson forced a steal on the in-bounds play and turned it into a corner 3-pointer. An 11-3 LSU run was immediately answered by a 7-0 Auburn run, which ballooned into a 12-5 Auburn run.
Pearl got what he wanted: This thing was over.
“We knew we had to step our defense back up,” Green said. “That's what we did, and we held it steady for the rest of the game.”
It was so steady, in fact, that LSU went the final 6:26 of the game without hitting a single shot from the field. Auburn also forced field goal droughts of 6:57 and 5:46 in the first half, paving the way for its best defensive game against an SEC opponent in a decade.
LSU scored just 49 points, the fewest Auburn had allowed in an SEC game since the infamous 49-37 win over Alabama in 2013. LSU only shot 29% from the field, the lowest percentage for a conference opponent in a road game since 2011.
After winning two games last week with a resurgent offense, the defense took center stage once again in Auburn’s largest road win by margin of victory (+18) in Baton Rouge since 1958.
“Good road win,” Pearl said. “Great balance. LSU, their back was against the wall a little bit tonight, and we really knew that. We established ourselves pretty well.”
Here are four Observations from Auburn’s 67-49 road win at LSU, along with the Rotation Charts and the Quote of the Night.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
#HeadbandWen “was special”
Midway through the second half, Green took a dribble handoff from Broome and drove past LSU wing Justice Williams. When Williams recovered, Green dribbled into him and tried a floater from just inside the free-throw line.
The ball bounced high off the rim and found its way home. Then Green, who is around a half of a foot shorter than Williams, hit his matchup with the “too little” celebration that is usually reserved for frontcourt players.
Needless to say, Green was feeling it. When he hit that shot, he had put together seven points, three assists, a steal and two defensive rebounds in the span of 5:03, helping take what had been a close game into near-blowout territory.
“Wendell Green was special,” Pearl said afterwards.
Two weeks ago, Green had one of his worst performances of the season in a road loss to Georgia. That was a wakeup call for the entire team, but it really resonated with the Tigers’ floor general.
Since then, Green is averaging 18.3 points and 4.8 assists per game during Auburn’s four-game winning streak. He’s been the KenPom MVP in three out of the last four contests, and he’s now listed among the top five players in the SEC — and the lone point guard of that list.