Tonight's game against the LSU Tigers was a game of big swings. Auburn opened up strong with a 5-0 lead but quickly found themselves down by 11 points midway through the first half. It was starting to look rough for the home Tigers, but they fought back to go into halftime with a 35-32 lead.
The second half saw an extremely quick start for Auburn. The Tigers were hitting everything and LSU was coming up cold. Auburn built a 15 point lead midway through the 2nd half and things were looking good for the home team.
Of course, this is an Auburn basketball game. If Auburn has a big lead in the 2nd half, you know it's going to end as a close game. That's exactly what happened as LSU pulled it to within 2 points as the game was winding down.
With LSU cutting it to a 2 point game on clutch 3 point shot, things were getting rough. After wasting a good bit of time, TJ Dunans hit a fantastic jump shot to stretch the lead. A steal and a deep pass to Horace Spencer resulted in a beautiful jam by Horace Spencer that was really the nail in the coffin. LSU hit a 3 with around 10 seconds to go to cut it to 3 again, but Ronnie Johnson hit one of his free throws and grabbed the rebound on the second one to run the clock out and the 78-74 victory.
With that, Bruce Pearl came away with career victory number 500. His Tigers - once again without Danjel Purifoy - came away with a true team victory. Nearly every player came away with points. Five players scored in double digits. TJ Dunans and Mustapha Heron led the team with 12 (Heron's 18th straight game with 10 or more points). Anfernee McLemore had a career-high 11 points. Horace Spencer added 10, and Austin Wiley also got into the double-digits with 10. Jerod Harper finished below double-digits, a rarity for him, but he had at least two excellent deep 3-pointers.
Auburn, without Purifoy, still struggles some with rebounding. However, the stats show this one was much closer than you may think. LSU finished with 46 to Auburn's 42. It was the second chance points that kept LSU in the game, though. They were excellent at getting those.
It can't be understated how big this win was for Auburn. It was still a nail-biter, but winning at home is always key. They're now 2-5 in conference play and have a bit of momentum going into the Alabama game this Saturday.
The Tigers will "welcome" the Tide at 3pm Central on ESPN2. Alabama has played well in conference play, so a win in that one would go a long way towards setting the tone for the second half of the conference schedule.
War Eagle! And congrats to Bruce Pearl on his 500th victory!