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January 10, 2013

Poor shooting costs LSU

LSU began the grueling 18-game Southeastern Conference schedule Wednesday night at Auburn.

There is no doubt that the Auburn road game was one which LSU had an opportunity to win. The game played out in that manner as LSU found itself ahead by six points one minute into the second half.

However, a road victory in basketball is hard to come by - particularly in a conference opener. Since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992, LSU has started its league schedule away from the PMAC 14 times.

After losing 68-63 at Auburn on Wednesday, LSU now has a 4-10 record in those SEC openers on the road. LSU's four victories came at Auburn in 1992 and 2011 and at Arkansas in 2004 and 2006.

There can be no stretches of poor play if a team is going to win on the road, regardless of the competition. The crowd can have an affect to turn momentum. There was no boost of energy for LSU from the fans at the Auburn Arena on Wednesday.

A ten-minute stretch, nearly a quarter of the game, doomed LSU against Auburn. LSU got the first five points of the second half on a 3-pointer by Andre Stringer and a layup by Anthony Hickey. Those two baskets put LSU on top 33-27 with 19 minutes remaining.

Over the next ten minutes, LSU had 16 possessions. It came away with points just three times - layups by Stringer and Hickey and a jumper by Jalen Courtney. Meanwhile, Auburn scored 22 points in that period. With 9 minutes left, LSU trailed 49-39.

Auburn made one strategy change after falling behind by six points. Coach Tony Barbee utilized a zone defense. LSU was 3-of-14 from the field. Hickey and Stringer were a combined 2-of-8. Charles Carmouche missed his one field goal attempt.

The zone had its effect on LSU post players Johnny O'Bryant and Shavon Coleman. In that time, O'Bryant missed his two shots and made two turnovers. Coleman missed his one shot and committed one turnover. O'Bryant also got into foul trouble.

LSU's lack of size, a huge concern heading into the season, surfaced in the first SEC game. O'Bryant had just six points and seven rebounds. He had four turnovers, one more than his made field goals.

Coleman was really affected by the taller post players. Coleman did grab nine rebounds, but he missed all but two of his field goal attempts. Coleman had two shots blocked. Andrew Del Piero had his usual numbers - four points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.

If the inside game is not going to produce, LSU has to get shooting from its perimeter players. LSU had its worst shooting night of the season - 37 percent from the field, 33 percent on 3-pointers and a horrendous 40 percent at the foul line.

The three perimeter players - Carmouche, Hickey and Stringer - combined for 41 points. They were a combined 16 of 40 from the field - decent stats, but not enough to carry an offense which got virtually no production inside.

Carmouche had 15 points, but 11 came in the last minute. He had a nice floor game with seven assists and six rebounds. Both Hickey and Stringer had 13 points. Hickey had five rebounds, four assists, three steals and just one turnover. Stringer was 3-of-6 on 3's.

LSU simply didn't put together enough good minutes to win on the road. Shooting 37 percent is not the recipe for winning away from home. LSU will return to the PMAC on Saturday. Unfortunately, the opponent is Florida, maybe the SEC's top team.


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