LSU levels Auburn, cracks 100-point mark in a SEC game for first time since 1994

PHOTO by Jonathan Mailes

“Everybody eats” is a favorite catchphrase of the LSU basketball team, especially for juniors Darius Days and Javonte Smart.

Because when they say it, it means just about everybody in a Tigers’ uniform got a piece of the scoring pie.

Considering LSU scored more than 100 points in an SEC game for the first time since 1994 in the Tigers’ 104-80 blowout of Auburn Saturday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, it was more like an “all you can score” buffet.

From Cam Thomas scoring 27 points and enjoying his fifth 25 points or more performance in his last six games to reserve forward Josh LeBlanc producing career-high 12 points, LSU (14-6, 9-4) won its third straight game on the strength of its third consecutive 50 percent plus shooting show.

“We’re just sharing the ball and trusting each other these past couple of games,” said Days, who scored 14 of his game-total 17 points in the second half after playing fewer than 10 minutes in the first half when he tweaked his previously sprained ankle. “There were a couple of spurts in the middle of the season where we’re playing a lot of 1-on-1, but everybody is starting to understand each other, they understand their roles.”

Days injured his ankle with the game just 66 seconds old and exited the floor with Auburn leading 5-0. Seconds later, Thomas launched and hit a deep 3 to break the ice for LSU.

With LeBlanc filling admirably on the boards in Days absence, LSU got untracked. Trailing Auburn 10-5, point guard Smart hit two straight 3s as 13 LSU consecutive points led to a 26-6 run in the next 8 ½ minutes.

And Auburn (11-12, 5-9) was essentially done.

It had one legitimate scorer – freshman point guard Sharife Cooper was as good as advertised as he scored 26 points – but the visitors didn’t have much besides him.

Auburn had three double-figure scorers combine for 49 points, LSU had five in double digits combine for 90 points. Besides Thomas, Days, LeBlanc, there were forward Trendon Watford (18 points) and Smart (16 points).

Auburn had one player hit 3 or more 3s, LSU had three (Smart 4 of 6, Days 4 of 7, Thomas 3 of 6). Auburn had no one grab double digits rebounds and LSU had two (Watford 11, LeBlanc 10). LSU outscored Auburn in points off turnovers (21-18), points in the paint (50-38), fast break points (25-13) and bench points (20-19).

“Our defense led to our offense,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “When we were able to get stops, we were able to get out in offense on transition. We did a phenomenal job on the offensive glass. Anytime you shoot over 50 percent (53.4 including 59.4 in the second half) and hold the other team under 40 (37 percent), everything is somewhat manageable.”

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl seemed stunned that his team suffered a 24-point loss, its worst defeat margin of the season.

“I’m disappointed in our team, in our play, executions, preparations, and in how we competed,” Pearl said. “I knew what we were up against with Trendon, Darius (Days), Javonte and Cam. They are all good players. I just don’t think they’re that much better than our players. However, they played it.”

LSU, tied for second in the SEC with Arkansas, has three games left in the regular season. The Tigers play Tuesday at Georgia and next Saturday at Arkansas in rematches of games won by LSU in Baton Rouge on Jan. 6 over the Bulldogs (94-92 in overtime) and on Jan. 13 over the Razorbacks (92-76).

Then, the Tigers play home against Vanderbilt on March 2 and will likely play one of two games that have been postponed vs. Missouri or Florida on March 9 before heading to the SEC tournament in Nashville the following week.

“We’ve got a limited number of opportunities left,” Wade said. “We have to finish strong and this is the first step to a strong finish. We’ve got to stay locked in. We haven’t left ourselves any margin for error.”

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Ron Higgins

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