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February 27, 2010Tay Waller is blazing hot, and Auburn can't hold first half leads.
Those two things seem to be a given for Auburn lately. But Saturday night, only one of those trends held true.
Waller came into the game off back-to-back 29-point efforts and continued his torrid shooting against LSU scoring a game-high 26 points in Auburn's 74-59 win at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in front of an announced crowd of 8,927.
Waller has scored 84 points in his last three games.
Waller became the first Auburn player to score 25 points or more in three consecutive SEC games since Wesley Person did it in 1994. Person scored 28 points against Arkansas, 34 against Ole Miss, and 30 against Tennessee in a seven- day span.
"I haven't felt this good since my two years at Okaloosa-Walton (Community College)", Waller said. "I feel like I'm in the zone and that I can't miss right now."
Waller knows his early game success has a big impact on the way his team plays.
"It gets my confidence going," he said. "Plus, it helps the team relax a little bit. They always rely on me to hit a shot. When I come out and make shots, our team plays much better."
The contest was the last Saturday night game in the 41-year history of Beard-Eaves, and it saw an Auburn team light it up from long range hitting a season-high 13 three-point shots, including eight in the first half.
Auburn held LSU to 59 points for the game after giving up 63 points in the second half against Ole Miss Wednesday night.
Auburn started the game off hitting four three's and jumping out to a 12-4 lead. Two of the three's were from Waller.
Late in the first half, a five-point run in the span of a minute by Waller stretched the Auburn lead to 26-15.
Auburn took a 36-19 lead into halftime shooting 50-percent from the field, as well as 50-percent from behind the arc. Five Tigers hit three's in the first half, Waller hitting three, sophomore forward Kenny Gabriel hitting two, and three other Tigers hitting one a piece.
Auburn held struggling LSU to 35-percent shooting in the first half, while forcing nine turnovers.
The second half, the half that has plagued Auburn all season, wouldn't trip Auburn up this time.
Auburn picked up where they left off in the first half, extending their lead to 43-24 off a DeWayne Reed layup with 17:20 left in the second half. Reed finished the game with 12 points.
LSU did make a push midway through the second half though.
LSU sophomore forward Storm Warren came out hot in the second half scoring eight points in the first eight minutes, helping LSU cut the once 19-point Auburn lead to 50-40 with 11:37 remaining in the game.
The LSU comeback took a hit though when senior forward Tasmin Mitchell, who scored a season high 38 points against Auburn in their first meeting, fouled out with 8:38 left in the second with Auburn leading 54-45.
Mitchell finished with a season-low six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Auburn outscored LSU 20-14 from that point on, and bucked their latest trend of faltering down the stretch.
Auburn was actually outrebounded in the game 34-22, but only committed eight turnovers, compared to LSU's 16.
Freshman guard Earnest Ross got the start for Auburn as sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan sustained a concussion in practice this week and was held out for tonight's game.
Ross finished the night with six points and six rebounds.
Senior center Brendon Knox finished the game with 10 points off the bench for Auburn, and nine different Tigers scored on the night.
"We're trying to play more players. When you come down the stretch, you got to play some more guys for more minutes", Lebo said. "Andre Malone and Kenny Gabriel got some more minutes tonight."
Junior LSU guard Bo Spencer finished the night with 23 points, while sophomore forward Storm Warren finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Auburn moved to 14-15 overall, and 5-9 in SEC play. Auburn has won their last four home games. LSU falls to 10-18 overall, and 1-13 in the SEC.
Auburn plays host to Mississippi State Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the last men's basketball game in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.