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LSU Advances In SEC Tournament Past Auburn, 78-48

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LSU Advances In SEC Tournament Past Auburn, 78-48

GREENVILLE, S.C.  — LSU jumped out to a 21-0 start Friday night in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, opening its SEC Tournament action with a 78-48 win over Auburn to advance to the semifinals. The 30-point margin was LSU’s second largest SEC Tournament ever, trailing only when LSU beat Ole Miss in 2008, 80-36.

“We’re playing good basketball at the right time,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “We held a team that beat us and then came within five of us this year to 5-percent shooting in the first quarter. Honesty (Scott-Grayson) didn’t score until the fourth quarter.”

LSU is in the SEC semifinals for the second year in a row and will face the winner of No. 3 seed Ole Miss and No. 11 seed Florida that is currently on the SEC Network. Saturday’s game will be at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU. LSU defeated both Ole Miss and Florida by double figures when they matched up in the regular season.

Flau’Jae Johnson scored a season-high 25 points, 13 in the first quarter, as it was her second straight game with at least 20 points. The second-team All-SEC was 9-17 from the field, 2-3 from three, and 5-5 from the charity stripe. Johnson along with Hailey Van Lith shut down Auburn’s leading scorer Scott-Grayson to just 4 points.

“She (Johnson) was stroking it out there,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “But the great part is that she was also defending. She was assigned to guard Honesty in the game and in the scouting report. She’s just got better and better.”

Angel Reese recorded her 10th consecutive double-double and 21st of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Reese’s performance marked her 10th straight double-double. The Junior was a perfect 6-6 from the foul line before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter. 

Last-Tear Poa scored a new career high of 14 points on a perfect 3-3 from the field and 1-1 from three. Poa went 7-8 from the free throw line to score the majority of their points. 

All five starters scored in double-figures on Friday night. Van Lith finished with 11 and Aneesah Morrow scored 10 points and hauled in 8 rebounds.

McKenna Eddings led Auburn with 15 points coming off the bench, boosted by 10 in the fourth quarter. No other Auburn Tigers finished in double figures. JaMya Mingo-Young and Sydney Shaw finished the contest with 8 points each.  

LSU finished the night 23-50 from the field for 46-percent and held Auburn to 20-67 for 30-percent. LSU was 5-9 from the three-point line, compared to Auburn’s 4-15.  LSU outscored Auburn in the paint 34-18 and out-rebounded them 41-31. 

LSU started hot, 9-11 from the field to jump out to a 23-0 lead. Johnson reached her season average of 13 points 5 minutes into the action after going a perfect 5-5 from the field. LSU forced Auburn into 5 early turnovers as its opponent went 0-12 from the field. Auburn scored its first point of the game after Collins went 1-2 from the foul line. Both teams were physical throughout the quarter, despite the score board. LSU dominated the first quarter and took a demanding 27-5 lead into the second quarter. LSU limited Auburn to 5.9-percent shooting in the opening frame.

Auburn’s Shaw got things started with a quick jumper before LSU went on a 9-0 run to move its lead to the 30-point margin. Auburn moved into double figures with under 5 minutes to go in the second to make it 39-11, LSU, before the media timeout. Reese moved into double digits right before the half as Van Lith lobbed a pass over top that Reese snagged and finished down low. LSU held a 24-point lead at the half after holding Auburn’s leading scorer, Scott-Grayson, to zero points. 

LSU ended the half shooting 15-33 for 45.5-percent compared to Auburn’s 8-33 and 24.2-percent. Auburn was 0-6 from deep and while LSU went 2-4. LSU added to its advantage with a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe and 26 points inside the paint. Auburn gave up 13 turnovers while LSU only allowed 5. 

Auburn scored the first points of the third quarter, but LSU’s offense picked up right where it left off with an 11-0 run to move its lead back above 30. Auburn stopped the run with its first three-pointer of the night, now 1-11. Van Lith went 2-2 from deep and scored 9 points to lead all scorers in the third. Reese scored 6 points on a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. The LSU Tigers held a 69-31 advantage heading into the final quarter. 

LSU traded buckets with Auburn as it held on to its large lead and made its shots from the free throw. Auburn could not get anything going on the fourth despite LSU subbing in its reserves. Auburn outscored LSU in the fourth 17-9 but couldn’t make a dent in LSU’s dominant lead. Eddings scored 10 in the final quarter that saw 2-2 from beyond the arch. LSU advanced in its first game at the SEC tournament with a demanding 30-point win.