Auburn 80, LSU 68
AUBURN, Ala. (AP)—Just hours before Auburn played LSU Wednesday night, Auburn associate head coach John Cooper found out he would be coaching the important conference game.
With an 80-68 win, Auburn (17-13, 7-8 Southeastern Conference) became just the second conference team to score more than 72 points against LSU, and remained in the four-team chase for the Western Division title. Head coach Jeff Lebo missed the game with an illness.
“Obviously you have pre-game jitters,” Cooper said after the game. “I have always said even when I was playing that pre-game jitters means you are ready to play. This is the second time he has done this to me, though. I really appreciate him doing this.”
LSU (14-14, 4-11) played its third straight game without an injured Glen Davis, who didn’t travel with the team.
Korvotney Barber took advantage of his absence, with 14 points and eight rebounds for Auburn.
“I think that they ran a little more,” Barber said of LSU without Davis. “His presence was lost on their side because he is a big guy to hold. (Darnell) Lezare is a pretty good player, but he is no ‘Big Baby.’ ‘Big Baby’ is real big and he can score around the paint and he can shoot. It was a big difference not having him there.”
Auburn has won three straight games and is vying for the division title with Alabama, Mississippi State and Mississippi—the Tigers’ final regular-season opponent on Saturday.
Cooper said he hoped Lebo would be better in time for Auburn’s game against Ole Miss.
“We know what it’s going to take,” Cooper said of preparing for Saturday’s game. “It is going to be hard for us to go in there and win. This is going to be something new for this team that we have, but it is going to be something new for the team at Ole Miss as well.”
Auburn’s Josh Dollard had 16 points. DeWayne Reed, who was starting his third game of the season, had 12 points, six assists and just two turnovers. Quan Prowell chipped in 11 points off the bench. Auburn had a season-low of nine turnovers and locked up its first winning season since 2002-2003.
Tasmin Mitchell picked up the slack for Davis with his mid-range game and had a career-high 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor. He had seven rebounds.
“We’ve always been taught never to give up,” Mitchell said. “After half, we still came out with the intentions of winning the game. I was open a couple of times, and I shot the three and made it. There were guys on the sides wide open, and my team did a good job looking up.”
Garrett Temple, who had 13 points, was the only other LSU player in double figures.
Auburn could grab the No. 1 seed in the West for the SEC tournament with a win over Ole Miss combined with an Alabama victory over Mississippi State.