Auburn Holds on For Men's Basketball Win

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Men's Basketball vs. Auburn - Postgame Reaction Men's Basketball vs. Auburn - Audio Replay Printable Box Score +0
Auburn Holds on For Men's Basketball Win

BATON ROUGE — Auburn’s KT Harrell and Antoine Mason combined for eight three pointers and 52 points, as the visiting Tigers defeated the LSU men’s basketball team, 81-77, on Thursday night at the Maravich Center.

LSU (16-6, 5-4 SEC) missed a game-tying free throw with 11 seconds left and was unable to take advantage of an Auburn turnover with less than three seconds to play.

Jordan Mickey led the way for LSU with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting with 12 rebounds and six blocks. Guard Tim Quarterman added 17 points, while Jarell Martin also tallied a double double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Keith Hornsby had 11 points.

Harrell had 28 points while Mason had 24 points with Cinmeon Bowers getting 16 points and 10 rebounds.

LSU lost for the first time this season when outshooting its opponent. The homestanding Tigers were 29-of-66 shooting (43.9 percent) while Auburn was 26 of 61 (42.6 percent). Auburn made 9-of-20 three pointers, while LSU made only 4-of-17. Auburn was also 20-of-27 at the free throw line compared to 15-of-23 for LSU.

Auburn led the game for over 32 minutes, while LSU had the advantage for only 5:02 and with no more than a three-point advantage. Auburn had 20 points off LSU’s 15 turnovers.

LSU held a 19-16 lead after a layup by Keith Hornsby at the 12:50 mark but Auburn scored the next 10 points to take a 26-19 lead with 8:49 to go in the opening stanza. The LSU Tigers were able to close the game back in a high scoring half with LSU leads, 41-39, at the break.

Auburn kept LSU at bay for the first nine minutes of the second half before LSU rallied to take the lead. Down 58-53, Jalyn Patterson hit a three to cut it 58-56 and then after an Auburn turnover Martin had a dunk at the 9:22 mark to tie the game at 58-58. After another turnover, Mickey missed a shot but Patterson got the rebound and put the ball back in to give LSU, 60-58 advantage with 8:27 to play.

Just 15 seconds later, Harrell hit a three-pointer to give Auburn back the lead, 61-60. Auburn held that advantage until LSU’s Quarterman made two free throws to go up 73-72 with 1:19 left. But that LSU lead lasted just 16 seconds as Bowers got a layup to make it 74-73 Auburn.

Down the stretch, Auburn was about to make seven free throws and LSU was unable to convert a free throw or an inbounds pass in the final seconds with a chance to tie or win.

With both Mickey of LSU and Bowers of Auburn getting double doubles, the two players averaging a double double in the league remained that way and both are tied for the season lead with 13 double doubles each this season.

LSU remains at home for the second game of a rare three-game SEC homestand. The Tigers take on Alabama at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Maravich Center.

LSU Men’s Basketball Postgame Quotes
LSU vs. Auburn – February 5, 2015


Opening Statement …
“I thought we came into the night with a great opportunity after finishing the first half of our conference schedule 6-3 and tied for second in our league. We wasted a great opportunity tonight. We played a team that had several losses in a row in conference. They came in and played desperately looking for an opportunity to win. They played with an edge. We allowed them to get comfortable out on the floor and make plays, execute, make shots and become a confident basketball team. With that, I thought we played too comfortable on the floor. Because of our comfort level, they became a very confident team. Unfortunately, throughout the game they led for 32 minutes. Down the stretch, they executed and made the necessary plays that they needed to. Unfortunately, in this game, you can’t turn it on and off. You have to get it from start to finish, play every second of every play and have an edge about you. When you don’t, bad things are going to happen to you. We got treated to that tonight.”

On making adjustments following a tough loss …
“We put ourselves in a tough spot. Tomorrow in practice we have to make sure that we address that. We feel like, because of some of the success that we had early, that these guys may have been growing up. Unfortunately, we’ve got to change some of our habits and the way that we do things to make sure that we keep their attention and that we’re not in our comfort zone.”

On playing in front of the home crowd and the impact it should have …
“It was an unbelievable crowd and a great atmosphere. The fans were there and did their part. We simply just did not do our part tonight to treat them. It’s almost like you take it for granted, being at home and having your fans, like you don’t have to play a certain way. That’s where you get your edge. That’s why they call it home court advantage. You should be able to play with more of an edge because of your fans and the energy that they give you.”

On in-bounds plays …
“Yeah, we’ve got to find somebody that is a confident passer from out of bounds and make sure that we can trigger the right play. We’ve got guys holding onto the ball for too long, while guys are becoming open. We’re just not making the play, and we’re a little bit hesitant. It’s happened to us in the last several games, and we’ve got to clean that up. I think we might have had four or five turnovers there on the baseline.”

On playing with an edge …
“They don’t play with the edge that they need to throughout. In this game, you have to play and allow the refs to officiate. You have to play smart. That can put us in a bind, because people will go at you a certain way and have some easy scoring opportunities. You can’t save yourself out there. You have to play every second, and you have to be accountable for your plays as well. I thought Darcy (Malone) did a good job of absorbing a couple of those fouls early, but those other guys have to get in there and play, grind it out anytime something is going on around the rim. If you’re going to foul, it should be around the rim while making smart plays.”

On being a tougher basketball team, mentally and physically …
“I thought they knocked down some big shots. You can’t allow guys to get comfortable when they have good shooters. Coaches spend countless hours with scouting reports, how we’re going to defend screen plays. Then, when go in the game, we don’t execute defensively like we need to. That’s something that we’ve got to address. When you talk about winning, you’ve got to make tough plays. Getting over and through screens is tough, and you’ve got to be willing to do that. Blocking out is hard. Posting up, running your offense and executing is hard, but you’ve got to be mentally tough enough to execute and make those plays. We’ve got to get back to that and not settle, allowing teams to give us what they want. We’ve got to take what we want. It’s tough, but you’ve got to be willing to grind it out to get that.”


On how the team will bounce back after a tough loss…
“We just have to stick together. Stay positive. We can’t let guys separate and try to break off from the team and pull together.”

On what the team needs to do to finish in close games …
“That travel call at the end of the game was huge for us and we have to improve on our inbound plays. We need to cut harder and make the right pass at the end of the game.”

When asked how important it is to have outside shooting every night…
“We are not a big team that thrives on the outside ball. It would be nice to have consistency every night, but we are a team that needs to get to the basket and make free throws. We have guys that handle the ball well enough to get to the goal, get fouls and finish.


When asked if defensive is a main issue with the team…
“I feel that there were equal calls the same way during the game. We tried to press up into them tonight and they hit shots when we backed off. We just couldn’t adjust enough tonight without fouling. We had too many fouls called on our guards. They hit multiple tough shots. That is just the way it went tonight.”

When asked about the struggle from shooting from the outside tonight…
“We had plenty of close shots at the basket tonight. We knocked down some good jumpers tonight. Everyone needs to keep their confidence in themselves and this team. The goal is to stick together and finish strong as a team.


Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl

On closing out the game…
“I thought down at the end we had to go to Mason Antoine and we had to go to KT Harrell. They were making plays and they had the hot hands. Obviously in the last possession we wanted to foul in the last four seconds and we got it at 4.6. And there was a lot of substitution going back and forth as far as the free throw situation. I had my big guys inside and had my veterans outside in KT Harrell and Antoine Mason. I don’t know about the travel in the last possession but they got the call and we had to make one more play. I put Trayvon Reed on the ball and both Cinmeon Bowers and Jordon Granger on the inside against the two big kids because they tried to big boy us in there. We managed to muscle up enough to not allow them a clean look.”

On their defensive strategy against Jordan Mickey
“We tried to double him up when he got it. He’s got some tendencies on the inside that we tried to take away. But he is terrific. Him ad Martin are just absolute handfuls and they play great. We tried to make them beat us from the perimeter a little bit more. Sometimes they got it done and sometimes they didn’t. I thought our kids executed the game plan about as well as they could. They played with heart. This was a big win for us. Having covered the league and been in the league for a while, LSU and Arkansas, Ole Miss, Florida, and all those teams that are right there about to get in the tournament, I want our team to be right there and get six. I want LSU in the NCAA tournament, and I still think they are going to get there. But this was a big win for Auburn’s program because we haven’t won on the road yet. We have lost four in a row. The kids give up a little bit sometimes. It is hard. But they stayed together, and our best players got the ball in key moments.

On the hot start on the road…
“We aren’t the biggest team. We are the smallest team in the league. But we shoot the three ball pretty well. We have five guys that can shoot it, so we try to have two or three out there and try to spread it. We had to make threes, take some charges, and turn LSU over. That was a big key. And we couldn’t let those guys have a big run up. I thought it was a great effort by our kids.”


On guarding Jordan Mickey
“We scouted him and he’s a really good player. So we already knew he was going to be our main focus offensively. We tried to be tough on him and toward the end of the game, we knew had to do an even better job of making it tough on him consistently.”

On turning the season around…
“We have to stick with the plan. That is to consistently get better and like (Antoine) Mason said we have to practice hard. We as leaders on the team have to stay focused and try to get better. I think that’s what really helped us come out here with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. That’s why we came out with a win.”

On what this win means to Auburn…
“You definitely have to build on this. The league is close, so if you can get a couple of winning streaks, you’re in it.”


On winning close games…
“I think you gain experience from close games, but I think the most important thing we did this week was practice. We practiced situations for the last five minutes, and we play hard. We competed really hard in practice and I think that carried over into this game. We don’t let anything fluster us or anything like that. We kept together as a team and pushed forward.”

On Auburn’s shooting performance…
“If you can shoot good at away games, which we’ve been doing all season, all those close games away kind of gives us an edge. As long as we were close, I knew we had a chance.”

On defending Jordan Mickey
“He’s a really good player. Coming in we just tried to maintain him and make it tough on him. We knew he was very good at rebounds, so for the guards we tried to limit second chances and get the ball out of his hands because he’s a great rebounder. We knew he was going to get his share, but we tried to just limit him.”