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#16 LSU at #11 Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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Now the SEC gauntlet begins.....

NCAA Basketball: Murray State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday December 29th, 2021

LSU Tigers at Auburn Tigers

Auburn Arena

Time: 6:00PM CT

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

And now the fun begins.....

Auburn’s SEC journey tips off this evening as the 11th-ranked Auburn Tigers (11-1) host the 16th-ranked and undefeated LSU Tigers (12-0) at Auburn Arena. LSU is one of 5 remaining undefeated teams in the country but this will be their toughest test so far this season.

This will also be one of Auburn’s toughest tests so far this season as Auburn will face one of the best defensive teams in the country in LSU. Yes, I said best defensive teams.

Over the past few years, LSU has been much more of an offensive team with their defense lacking to say the least. That has changed this season.

While LSU is #1 in defensive efficiency this season, Auburn comes in at #10 defensive efficiency. As for offensive efficiency, Auburn is #20, LSU is #58 so this will most definitely be a strength on strength kind of game.

Auburn comes into tonight’s game after a week off after defeating Murray State 71-58 last Wednesday evening. Wendell Green had his first Auburn double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Racers but everyone will remember his shot-clock beating half-court 3 pointer in the 2nd half which really was the last time the Racers threatened inside Auburn Arena last week.

Get to Know LSU

LSU is 12-0 but have not played a team in the Top 50 in KenPom. They have some nice wins over solid mid-majors Belmont, Ohio, Liberty along with neutral court wins over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech and Penn State but this will be a bit of a different environment and Will Wade is absolutely aware of it.

LSU comes into tonight’s game averaging 79.6 PPG while giving up just 54.1 PPG. We talked a little bit about LSU’s stout defense but the team comes in as nation’s leader in steals as 7 players have at least 14 steals on the season and as a team, the Bayou Bengals are averaging 12.8 steals per game and are forcing 19.5 turnovers per game.

They shoot 46.1% from the field, 32.2% from 3, and 76% from the FT line. LSU also is averaging 42.2 rebounds a game.

We talked about their defense a little bit earlier but they average 12.8 steals per game with 7 players having at least 14 steals this season and force on average 19.5 turnovers.

LSU is led in scoring by sophomore forward Tari Eason (#13). The former Cincinnati Bearcat leads LSU in scoring despite coming off the bench, averaging 16.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG. Eason is shooting 54.5% from the field and 30% from 3-point range.

Also in the frontcourt is someone Auburn fans have seen plenty of the last few years as senior forward Darius Days (#4) is back for another season in Baton Rouge. Days is averaging 14.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG. Days is LSU’s most frequent 3-point shooter and shoots 35.3% from 3.

Another transfer who has made a huge impact is senior guard Xavier Pinson (#1). Pinson came over from Missouri and is averaging 10.3 PPG. He leads the teams in assists (50) and is tied for the team lead in steals (21). Pinson is shooting 32.6% from 3 and is an outstanding FT shooter shooting 87.1% from the charity stripe.

In the middle for LSU is freshmen center Efton Reid (#15). The 7-footer who was a top 30 recruit this season is averaging 9.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG this season.

Another freshmen contributor in the starting lineup is guard Brandon Murray (#0) averaging 8.8 PPG. Rounding out the starting lineup for LSU is sophomore forward Mwani Wilkinson (#5) who is averaging 3.5 PPG.

A couple other LSU Tigers to be aware of is guard Eric Gaines (#2) and forward Alex Fudge (#3). Gaines is averaging 8.5 PPG and is 2nd behind Pinson on the team in assists. Fudge is an outstanding defender and is averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.8 RPG.

Prediction

What a way for Auburn to start SEC play. My only wish for Auburn’s sake is the benefit of the entire Jungle full of students but based off the ticket prices I’m seeing, I would certainly hope that Auburn Arena will be packed for this one. Both teams are deep and like to pressure you on defense. The team that turns the ball over less should win this game.

A lot has been made about LSU’s start but lackluster non-conference schedule. We’re going to find out a lot about LSU tonight. As for Auburn, you have to protect home court in this league as road wins are going to be extremely hard to come by this season. At some point, Auburn needs a Jabari Smith takeover game. Perhaps tonight is the night. I think Auburn does just enough to win this one but it certainly won’t be easy.

Auburn 78 LSU 74