Jan. 30, 2008
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AUBURN - Quan Prowell scored 26 points, including a late three to give Auburn the lead with less than two minutes remaining, but LSU battled back to take the 81-80 win Wednesday night at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
LSU (8-12, 1-5 SEC) was led by junior Marcus Thornton and his 38 points as the Bayou Bengals earned their first conference win of the season. Auburn falls to 12-7 on the season, 2-4 in SEC play.
Thornton's 38 points are the most for an AU opponent since Ole Miss' Joe Harvell scored 38 against the Tigers on Feb. 29, 1992. It also comes just six points short of the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum record of 44, set by former LSU star Pete Marivich on Jan. 11, 1969.
"I thought we played very well," said Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo. "We just got beat by one guy who played as good as anyone I have seen play in a long time. Marcus Thornton hit some threes that were absolutely incredible, it was just an amazing performance by him tonight.
Five Tigers scored in double figures, led by Prowell's 26, but it was not enough to counter LSU's Thornton and Anthony Randolph, who finished with 38 and 21 points, respectively.
For Auburn, trailing Prowell was Rasheem Barrett with 15 points, followed by DeWayne Reed with 14. Frank Tolbert chipped in 12 while Lucas Hargrove rounded out the top five with 11 points.
"My team played well," said Lebo. "I am sorry we did not get the win for these guys, but we played well."
Carrying a one-point lead into the second half, Auburn and LSU traded the lead 11 times throughout the final period, along with three ties.
Down one point with less than two minutes to play, Prowell drained a three to give the Tigers a 77-75 lead. Following a LSU turnover on the opposite baseline, Auburn pushed the ball back down the court, setting Reed up for a three to give AU a five-point advantage, forcing a LSU timeout.
Thornton came out of the timeout and immediately changed the momentum as he answered with his seventh three-pointer of the night to cut the Auburn lead to two.
With 21 seconds remaining, it looked as if there was hope for Auburn as Quantez Robertson stepped up to the free throw line, but the junior put up his first miss from the charity stripe on the night, allowing LSU to go back down the court and take the lead for good on another Thornton three with less than four seconds left in the game.
"He had a lot of big shots, especially in the last seconds," said Prowell. "It's hard to stop a guy who is playing that good."
Thornton felt confident in the situation, by either hitting the shot or counting on his teammates for some help.
"I just tried to free myself up and get some space to get it off," said Thornton. "I knew if I had enough space to get it off I had a chance for it going in or somebody tipping it back in and going to overtime. Coach called a 45 handoff and I just took it from there and tried to make something happen as quick as possible because I knew time was running down."
Thonrton finished the game shooting 14-of-23 from the field, including 8-of-15 from behind the three-point arc. His consistent play throughout the game even surprised himself.
"I've never been that hot from the start to the end like that," said Thornton. "I was trying to give my team a chance to win the game and It felt good. You feel like you can shoot it from anywhere on the court, just put it up and it's got a chance to go in."
The teams were nearly identical shooting the ball, led by AU on 28-of-55 shooting for 50.9 percent. LSU was right behind them on 50.8 percent shooting, 31-of-61 from the field. Auburn was nearly perfect from the charity stripe, hitting 14-of-15 for 93.3 percent, compared to 75 percent from LSU (9-of-12).
In the first half, Auburn was quick out of the gate, starting off the game on a 10-0 run, led by five points from Reed, to take the early lead.
LSU wasted no time in getting back on track, though, rattling off four straight three-pointers, all from Thornton, to take the 12-10 lead. Auburn re-gained the lead on a three by Reed, setting the tone for the rest of the half as the score was tied six times with four lead changes.
With 1:21 remaining in the first half, Reed gave AU the lead for the last time of the half, knocking down a three for the 40-37 lead. The Tigers would hold on for the remainder of the period, taking a 42-41 lead into the locker room.
LSU's Thornton led all in the first half with 24 points while Reed led Auburn with 11. Prowell was right behind Reed with 10 points while also chipping in six first-half rebounds.
The Tigers return to action at 4 p.m., Saturday against No. 19/18 Vanderbilt (17-4, 2-4 SEC) at Memorial Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports South.