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A spirit that is not afraid

Hot start from LSU too much for Auburn

<p>Jan. 9, 2022; Auburn women's basketball team before a game against LSU from Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.</p>

Jan. 9, 2022; Auburn women's basketball team before a game against LSU from Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.

AUBURN, Ala. — Fresh off of a two-game road trip to start SEC play, Auburn was back in Auburn Arena for its first home game in three weeks on Sunday, facing No. 13 LSU. 

LSU took a large lead early and never looked back, handing Auburn its 18th consecutive SEC loss and third of the Johnnie Harris era, 76-48.

“Disappointed in our start,” the first-year head coach said. “I didn’t think we came out and fought. We didn’t come out and follow the game plan, we didn’t come out and fight. We were timid.”

The 28-point loss is the largest margin of defeat this season.

An early 17-2 run by LSU put Auburn down by a large margin early, something that prolonged for the remainder of the contest. Most of the issues for Auburn stemmed from the lack of size down low, something Auburn is going to have to adjust for in SEC play.

“We just have to do a better job of battling down there," Harris said. "I thought they came out and popped us and it took us a minute to wake up and fight back.”

Auburn did gain considerable size to their roster though, with the recent announcement that 6-foot-5 center Precious Johnson was ruled eligible by the NCAA. She appeared for nine minutes, tallying two points and a rebound in her Auburn debut.

“She’s gonna add size. She’s gonna be a work in progress,” Harris said. “We’ll continue to try and work her in but she does have size, she’s athletic. We’ll just have to teach her how to position herself where to be. She has a lot to learn, but she has a huge upside.”

As LSU found the basket, Auburn’s offense went cold, turning in eight first-quarter points. Eight points tied a season-low for points in a quarter by Auburn this season, before the Tigers scored seven in the fourth quarter.

“I feel like we didn’t come together and give ourselves enough energy to fight back,” said junior guard Sania Wells. “I feel like we stayed in that hole too deep. By the time we kind of woke up, got little sparks, it was too late, especially against a team like that.”

Wells, who was coming off a career performance of 20 points at Missouri, tallied eight points in the loss.

The LSU opening run was led by the Tigers’ leading scorer, Khayla Pointer, who tallied nine in the first. She finished the game with a team-high 24 points, one of three LSU players in double figures scoring.

Offensive production from LSU slowed in the second quarter, as the Tigers shot their worst basketball in the second at 26.7%. It included a run where LSU shot 1-for-10 from the floor but Auburn’s lack of offense was unable to make up any ground before halftime.

Even with the scoring drought from LSU, the Tigers finished the first half shooting 47% from the field compared to Auburn’s 27%.

According to Harris, it came down to shot selection.

“We took bad shots, we took early shots,” Harris said. “We wanted to work the ball, flip the floor and try and get it in the paint. When we did that, we got really good looks. A lot of times we just went one side, came off and we jacked it. So that accounts for the bad shots.”

By halftime, LSU had nearly doubled Auburn’s points, taking a 40-21 at the midway point.

Auburn started the second half in a 19-point deficit and the two teams were close score-wise in the third, similar to the second. The Tigers put up eight more shots than LSU had in the third, but the difference in the quarter was the same as the overall game — LSU’s were falling.

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While Auburn shot 30% in the third, its best shooting quarter of the night, LSU made 7-of-12 from the field compared to Auburn’s 6-of-20.

LSU closed the game with an exclamation mark in the fourth quarter, opening the final 10 minutes on a 10-0 run. The lead grew to as much as 32, while Auburn tallied a season-low seven points in a quarter.

Auburn now turns its head to another road trip, facing Florida and Texas A&M in its next two games, both away from Auburn Arena. The first will be against Florida on Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. CST, with the game being broadcast on SEC Network.

Caleb Jones | Sports Editor

Originally from Helena, Ala., Caleb Jones is a senior studying journalism at Auburn University. He has been on staff with The Plainsman since 2019.

You can follow him here on Twitter: @calebjsports

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