Auburn "Spreads the Wealth" in win over LSU
Ronnie Johnson (35) scored seven in Auburn's 78-74 win over LSU Wednesday night. (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Auburn entered Wednesday’s game against LSU with four SEC losses, but at times seeming to slowly find a rhythm. Bruce Pearl’s club continued that path, as they earned their second SEC win of the season, 78-74 over the LSU Tigers. Forward Danjel Purifoy would miss his third straight game following an ankle injury that he suffered against Ole Miss on January 7th. Coach Pearl would need more players to step up in big ways in order to pick up his first win at Auburn Arena since December 18, which was the game that T.J. Dunans nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Mercer, 76-74. Auburn got a little creative in their starting lineup, moving Horace Spencer to forward for the first time in his career. Spencer welcomed the move, as Pearl’s game plan revolved around bringing down more rebounds, as LSU brought a tall roster with them to the Plains. “Coach wanted me to play a 4-spot, because of my physicality.” said Spencer after the game, “He wanted more rebounds and defense going against 6’10” players.” The move worked out well, as Spencer ended the night with 10 points and seven rebounds. Spencer feels like the “four” is a more natural fit for him. “I feel like I am a natural four anyway. But, I have always played a five because of how physical I am and how strong I am. Playing the four is more natural because I am more mobile than a five. I can move faster on the ball, faster on the wing, helping guarding the guards and the bigs. I feel that it is more natural to play the five position.” Four other players joined Spencer in scoring double-figures: Dunans and Heron led the team with 12 points. Behind those two, was freshman Anfernee Mclemore with 11. Austin Wiley also scored 10 in the win. McLemore’s 11 points were a career high for his young tenure. While that is an incredible feat, it’s how he got it that brightens this story. McLemore shot 4-4 from the field, and 3-3 from the free throw line. That’s a perfect 100% on the night. Auburn seemed to show improvement in the free throw department as well. To go along with McLemore’s perfect night, Spencer and Wiley were also perfect from the stripe. Free throw shooting has not always been Auburn’s strong suit. McLemore says that his head coach has emphasized this portion of the game recently, especially after Auburn’s loss to Kentucky. As a team, Auburn shot 19-22 from the free throw line. Auburn went into the locker room with a 35-32 lead. Which was a great sign considering that LSU has recently found themselves in the situation of allowing teams to pull away in the second half. The Bayou Bengals played Auburn a little tougher than a majority of their SEC opponents in the second half. LSU had the lead for a total of 12:11, all in the first half. Ronnie Johnson says that capitalizing on one of LSU’s weaknesses allowed Auburn to keep them away in the second half. “I thought we could definitely attack their bigs on the ball screens, we tried to take advantage late.” Auburn moves to 12-6, 2-4 in SEC play. Auburn will play another home game this week, this time against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 P.M. inside Auburn Arena.