MBBAll vs Tenn

LSU men’s basketball freshman guard Cameron Thomas (24) drives the ball Saturday, February 13, 2021 during LSU’s 78-65 win against Tennessee in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on N Stadium Dr.

The LSU basketball team returned to action after Thursday’s game against Ole Miss was postponed due to inclement weather. LSU (14-6, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) hosted Auburn (11-12, 5-9 SEC) on Saturday afternoon and defeated them 104-80.

It was all LSU in the first half. They went on a 17-2 run to take a 22-12 lead in the first six minutes. LSU continued to pull away after a barrage of buckets from guards Cam Thomas and Javonte Smart, taking a 22-point lead with 4:24 left in the half before Auburn cut things to 16.

Thomas had 16 points and two rebounds at the break while Smart added 11 points, three rebounds and two assists. Sophomore forward Trendon Watford scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.

LSU brought more of the same in the second half. Both teams started off trading baskets, but junior forward Darius Days helped keep the foot on the gas with three three-pointers in the first four minutes of the half.

Auburn responded by cutting the deficit to 15, but LSU’s lead never fell below 20 in the final 12 minutes as LSU coasted to the victory. It was LSU’s highest-scoring game of the season and their most points scored against an SEC team since 1996.

“I thought we guarded well,” said Head Coach Will Wade. “I know they scored a lot of points, but the game was high possession. We did a nice job on the backboards. I thought we prepared well. Just a solid win.”

Thomas notched his 15th game of at least 20 points this season with his 27-point performance. Watford recorded a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Days scored 17 points while Smart added 16 points and six assists.

Junior forward Josh Leblanc also recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

“He always gives us a big spark,” Thomas said. “Defensively, rebounding, he’s always there to help. His contribution today was huge.”

LSU held Auburn to just 37% shooting from the field and 25% from deep. LSU also had 25 fastbreak points compared to Auburn’s 13.

“I thought our defense led to our offense,” Wade said. “We were able to get the stops. We basically doubled them up in transitions and did a phenomenal job on the offensive glass. I thought we played pretty well in both phases.”

“Anytime you shoot over 50% and hold the other team under 40%, if everything else is somewhat manageable, you’re going to have a great chance to win," Wade said. "I thought we did that today.”

LSU is currently projected as a No. 8 seed for the NCAA Tournament but could certainly see their stock rise in the final three games of the regular season and SEC Tournament. The team will look to make another deep run after reaching the Sweet 16 in 2019.

LSU will travel to Athens, GA, on Tuesday to take on the Georgia Bulldogs before closing out the regular season with Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

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