By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
The last LSU head coach to lose at Auburn didn’t remain an LSU head coach for much longer.
Unlike Les Miles, Johnny Jones may live to fight another day, but after the Tigers’ 78-74 loss at Auburn, its fourth defeat in a row and sixth in seven games, his seat has never been hotter.
Aaron Epps had a career night, posting 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his second ever collegiate double-double, and LSU (9-8, 1-5 SEC) trimmed a 15-point second half deficit to two with five minutes to play on two of Antonio Blakeney’s 13 points off the bench. But Auburn (12-6, 2-4 SEC) made five free throws and five field goals — four layups or dunks — down the stretch to hold off their guests.
Blakeney began the game on the bench, limited by an ankle injury suffered in Saturday’s loss to Alabama, but gave LSU 9 first half points. LSU lead by as much as 11 on his dunk, assisted from a behind the back pass courtesy of Skylar Mays, for a 26-15 lead with 10:25 left in the half.
But LSU, turnover-free for the first 10 minutes of the game, began coughing it up, and four straight Tiger giveaways triggered an 18-2 Auburn run spanning 6:09. The hosts took a 35-32 lead into halftime, as LSU managed just a single field goal over the final seven minutes of the first half.
Auburn stretched the lead to 15 by the 12 minute mark on a three pointer from Bryce Brown, one of just five makes from deep on 21 attempts against an LSU defense mostly in a zone. LSU didn’t disappear, fueled by Epps and eight bench points from Elbert Robinson. Back to back slams from Epps cut the deficit to five, and Robinson’s layup made it a two-point game with six minutes to go.
LSU never evened the score, though. After Auburn extended its lead to 8 with 2:08 to go, Patterson and Epps connected on back-to-back 3s to cut the lead to 73-71 with 55 seconds left. TJ Dunans answered with the final two of his team-high 12 points on a tough fading jumper, part of a 7-for-10 finish for Auburn to ice the win.
Jones’ Tigers return to the floor Saturday at Arkansas. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.