For the second time this season and the first time on the road, the Auburn defense held a team to under 50 points. The No. 16 Tigers of the Plains took care of the Bayou Bengals of LSU (12-6, 1-5 SEC) and cruised to a 67-49 victory behind a suffocating defense and another solid performance from the duo of Wendell Green Jr. and Jaylin Williams.
Auburn (15-3, 5-1 SEC) was cruising early and seemingly took control with a 14-2 run and a 30-15 lead late in the first half, but the Bayou Bengals would not be counted out. They closed the deficit to 11 before halftime and ended up going on a 20-7 run between both halves, trailing just by two as Auburn looked for any offense in the final 20 minutes. Pearl challenged his team and they delivered with a 15-2 run to re-establish the 15-point lead and end any chance of chaos on the Bayou.
“I called a timeout to give us two timeouts, cause I wanted those guys toweled down, I wanted them rested and I wanted this over,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said.
The timeouts worked and LSU, which started the second half with 14 points, only scored 14 more in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Auburn was shorthanded going into Baton Rouge with Chris Moore still out due to a shoulder injury, so Pearl turned to his bench and eventually to walk-on Lior Berman. While Green and Williams both delivered team-leading 14-point performances, Auburn needed an extra spark off the bench as John Broome struggled to get going, and the Tigers found that in Berman.
“We established ourselves pretty well, played pretty well early,” Pearl said. “How bout Lior Berman being able to come off the bench and just ball.”
The Mountain Brooke native continued to build off of the momentum from the Mississippi State game, getting 17 minutes on the floor and tying a career-high eight points. Berman’s spark was not a game changer, but it represented the identity and philosophy that Auburn has been developing in recent weeks: balance.
While LSU was led offensively by KJ Williams, who finished the game with 16 points, Williams managed just four second-half points as fatigue set in with 36 minutes on the floor. LSU had three players with 30 minutes or more, and six players in total with 20+ minutes. Meanwhile, Auburn had one player with over 30 minutes and instead had nine players with double-digit minutes tonight.
“That balance is what our calling card is,” Pearl said. “We won our positions and I think that balance is good for us going forward.”
Auburn will come back east to the Plains for a short break before going on the road again. This time the journey will take the Tigers to Columbia for a matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks(8-10, 1-4 SEC). The afternoon contest will tip off from Columbia at 2:30 p.m. CST and will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.
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