By Charles Goldberg
BATON ROUGE, La. -- It was a crazy game, from Auburn not attempting a single free throw in the first half but leading, to LSU jumping to a big lead in the second half, to the Tigers trying to shoot their way back into contention in the final minute.
LSU snapped Auburn's three-game SEC winning streak with an 87-80 victory in the Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday in a game that made you look twice.
Only six fouls were called in the first half. Thirty-eight were called in the second half. Only one point was scored from the line in the first half. Forty-two were scored in the second half.
LSU led by 14 with 4½ minutes remaining, but Auburn was shooting to make it a 2-point game with 43 seconds left.
"It just shows that we fight," said Auburn guard Chris Denson. "Everyone was still in the game. No one in the locker room is hanging their head. It definitely could have gone the other way."
Auburn, which had consecutive wins against Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, fell to 11-10 overall and 3-7 in the SEC. LSU improved to 15-7 overall and 6-4 in the league. The Tigers will play host to Kentucky, at 7 p.m. Wednesday; and Mississippi State at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday, in Auburn Arena.
Auburn led 33-32 at the half here, but the tone of the game changed early in the second half when the fouls quickly began to take their fouls. By the time it was over, three Tigers had fouled out and another had four fouls.
"You just have to adjust," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. "The team has to adjust, the players have to adjust, the coaches have to adjust."
Barbee said Auburn's 80 points should have been good enough to win, especially with Denson scoring 29, KT Harrell adding 19 and Tahj Shamsid-Deen scoring 16.
"Our defense wasn't as sharp as it has been," he said. "You're not going to win on the road giving up 87 points.
"We did enough offensively, especially between KT, Chris and Tahj, but you can't win with just three guys being productive on the offensive end of the floor. You've got to have more guys contributing. Like LSU did. Like we did against South Carolina."
Denson did much of his good work in the first half driving to the basket against LSU's zone. "It was different in the second half with their man-to-man," Denson said.
Auburn was credited with 47 points scored in the paint, but many of those came from the guards, Denson and occasionally Harrell.
The oddity of the fouls? "They let us play in the first half," Denson said. "They were blowing the whistle in the second half on both ends. We just came up on the short end."
Barbee said he was proud of his team's energy in the first half, and the fight it showed in the closing minutes. But a much of the second half went LSU's way.
"We got down by 14 and it could have gotten away from us, but I'm proud of the guys the way they kept fighting. We just didn't have enough to get over the hump," Barbee said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on the Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine