LSU coach Will Wade knows what will happen if his 18th-ranked team brings the same defensive mindset to Saturday’s Southeastern Conference showdown at No. 11 Auburn that it employed Wednesday night at Vanderbilt.
“We’ll give up 120 on Saturday if we play like this,” Wade said, according to the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate. “It’ll be brutal. Maybe we needed this.”
LSU dropped a 99-90 decision to the Commodores, who had lost 26 straight SEC regular-season games and 28 consecutive contests against SEC teams, dating back to March 2018. Vanderbilt shot 57.4 percent from the field, including a 12-of-30 showing from the 3-point line, while getting a combined 64 points from Saben Lee and Maxwell Evans.
Despite the loss, the Tigers (17-5, 8-1 SEC) still lead the conference by a game over Auburn (20-2, 7-2) and Kentucky. But they head into this weekend’s big game on a major low.
“Vanderbilt played great, they deserved to win,” Wade said to the Advocate. “We didn’t play as well as we needed to and we deserved to lose. That was really the story of the game. The 90 points we scored tonight is plenty, but it wasn’t enough to bail us out as well as Vanderbilt played.”
LSU fell despite 26 points on just 13 shot attempts from Trendon Watford, plus 24 points and 11 rebounds from Emmitt Williams. The Tigers shot nearly 47 percent from the field and earned a 38-30 advantage on the glass, but their inability to stop the league’s worst team undid all that work.
Meanwhile, Auburn enters the battle of Tigers with momentum from a come-from-behind win Tuesday night at Arkansas. Down 11 points with 6:00 left in regulation, Auburn used a 12-1 run to force overtime, then outscored the Razorbacks 10-7 in extra time for a 79-76 verdict.
Samir Doughty scored 23 points for Auburn, including two free throws that put the Tigers ahead for good in overtime. Auburn was 8 of 9 at the foul line in OT, capping its second straight road win in which it rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit.
“I think it speaks to the effort, the energy and character of our team not to give in, to not succumb to being down when you’re on the road,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We play nine guys on a regular basis. We’ve been able to wear people out.”
The roster depth was epitomized by Anfernee McLemore’s performance off the bench, with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.
“I don’t know how many guys come off the bench in this league who have a greater impact than him,” Pearl said of McLemore.
Saturday is the only regular-season meeting between LSU and Auburn this season.
–Field Level Media