February 29, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers guard Anthony Hickey (1) is defended by Tennessee Volunteers guard Trae Golden (11) during the second half at the Maravich Assembly Center. Tennessee defeated LSU 69-74 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE
After another overtime loss on Wednesday night to the Tennessee Volunteers, the LSU Tigers head out for one last road game as they take on the Auburn Tigers for the final game of the regular season. I imagine the team must feel somewhat subdued after the way that the previous game ended, though they should feel good about their chances of making the NIT. A final road win against Auburn might be enough to get a final home game should LSU fail to get a win in New Orleans next week.
As it stands right now, LSU would actually meet Auburn again in New Orleans in the opening game of the SEC tournament, being that LSU is currently 7th and Auburn is 10th. Because Georgia has a winnable game against South Carolina to finish up, Auburn might need that win to keep their 10th place spot.
The first game of the season was virtually a repeat of what we saw against Tennessee, just with a slightly different ending. LSU took a 7 point lead into halftime, though they had built up a double digit lead earlier in the first half, only to see it evaporate completely before the first media timeout. Auburn would actually take a 6 point lead of their own before LSU battled back. It took a 3 point buzzer beater to send the game to overtime, but LSU was lucky that it didn't cost them the win like it did against South Alabama.
Since that time, Auburn has managed to get 3 wins, but they are currently on a 3 game losing streak and have lost 6 of 7. Frankie Sullivan and Kenny Gabriel are still the best Auburn has to offer in terms of personnel, and every once and a while they will put up some good games, but they have also struggled to shoot the ball with consistency. Auburn as a team shoots it very poorly. In fact, through this season their highest 3 point percentage shooter is only 35%.
Auburn is a young team, perhaps comparable to LSU of the past few years. Kenny Gabriel is the only impact senior to be playing his last home game. Normally you would say that losing a senior with his contributions would be a "big loss" going forward, but at the same time, how big can it be for a sub .500 team?
What to look for: Everything about this game screams trap game. It's hard to know what LSU is thinking right now, especially after another disappointing loss, but with the way the team shut down in the second half of the UT game up until the final minutes, I'm not sure they are mentally ready for this game. Auburn will be extremely fired up to simply get that final win of the year, while LSU seems to be coasting until the end of the season. Whether it is due to fatigue or not I don't know, but the motivation of the team needs to increase.
That said, LSU is the better team. They've proven all year that they can beat the inferior teams, as well as a couple of superior teams. The young players like O'Bryant and Hickey have slowly become the focal point of the offense to compliment Hamilton, and they aren't playing at all like the freshmen they were in the beginning of the year.
Vegas doesn't think too highly of the LSU Tigers' chances either, and they are giving us a point. They think it will be an ugly game with an O/U of only 118. That's a tempting number, and I would expect to see an over because Auburn might have a little bit of magic going for them on their senior day. LSU should be able to hold up their end of the bargain and get at least 60.
Before the season started I predicted a 20-10 (9-7) record. Unfortunately the best we can get right now is 18-12 (8-8), but I would still like to finish as close as possible, so I might as well pick a LSU winner today to try to get there. I think it's going to be higher scoring, perhaps with both teams reaching the 70's, but LSU is able to win by 3.
Game time is set for 1:00 CT and the game can be viewed semi-nationally on CBS. Out west expect to see a Pac 12 pillowfight. However, the game can be seen on CBS Sportsline for free, so you can check out their site for a slightly higher quality stream than ESPN3.