AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn defeated LSU 78-74 as five Tigers scored in double figures to give Bruce Pearl his 500th career win Wednesday in Auburn Arena. Pearl is the 21st fastest coach in college basketball history to reach 500 career wins,. T.J. Dunans and Mustapha Heron led Auburn with 12 points and six rebounds each.
“I’m obviously grateful,” Pearl said. “My daughter came in from Atlanta; I had some friends come in from Evansville that were dear friends of mine when I was at Southern Indiana, and so I think your family and everybody else sort-of makes a bigger deal out of this.”
Auburn connected on 40.9 percent from the field (27-of-66), including 50 percent in the second half (15-of-30). The Tigers held LSU to 39.2 percent (29-74).
Auburn scored 21 of the first 31 points in the second half and led by as many as 15 at 57-42 with 12:06 to play before LSU battled back to make it a two point game at 59-57 with 7:01 left.
Ronnie Johnson then scored six over the remaining 4:20, including a conventional 3 with 2:08 left to give Auburn an eight point lead at 73-65. LSU’s Jalyn Patterson’s 3 with :55 left closed the gap to 73-71 before Dunans and Horace Spencer scored a bucket each to regain control.
“You have to look at some of the lineups that are out there, like ‘how many minutes this year has Ronnie Johnson, Bryce Brown, TJ Dunans, Horace Spencer and Anfernee McLemore played together?” asked Pearl. “The answer is probably none, except the last few minutes of that game. We started Horace at power forward, he had not played there at all, I think it really helped us win the game. You could see with 22 offensive rebounds that it was huge.”
Auburn improved to 12-6, 2-4 while LSU fell to 9-8, 1-5 in front of a crowd of 8,327.
Spencer had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks, Austin Wiley added 10 points and six boards while Anfernee McLemore totaled a career-high 11 points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Auburn was 19-for-22 (.864) from the free throw line while LSU went 10-of-13 (.769).
LSU used to early runs of 9-0 and then 10- 0 to turn a 7-2 deficit into their larges lead at 26-15 with 10:25 left in the half. Jared Harper scored five straight to spark a 20-6 run over the final 8:06 to take a 35-32 lead into the half.
Aaron Epps’ double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds led LSU with Duop Reath and Antonio Blakeney adding 13 points apiece.
LSU outrebounded Auburn 46-42.
Auburn shot 23.1 percent from the 3-point line (6-of-26) while LSU connected on 23.8 percent (5-of-21).
Auburn returns to action against Alabama on Saturday at 3pm CT on ESPN2 in Auburn Arena.
COURTESY AUBURN SPORTS INFORMATION