After winning two straight but going over a week without playing a game, it would've been natural for LSU to show a little bit of rust. Instead, the purple and gold turned in one of its most complete performances of the season against on Auburn team that had been trending up in recent weeks.
Behind an efficient offensive night and sound defense, LSU controlled its matchup with Auburn, winning 104-80. The 104 points were the most LSU has scored against an SEC team for the first time since 1992.
LSU (15-6, 9-4) was put in a precarious position right from the tip as forward Darius Days reaggrevated an ankle injury that kept him out for nearly two weeks. The junior forward would return minutes later, which was a sigh of relief for the program as Days without a doubt is this team's x-factor when healthy.
With Days out, guards Javonte Smart and Cam Thomas made it clear that this would be their day to shine. As part of a 26-14 start and 21-4 from the Tigers, Smart and Thomas combined for 18 of the first 26 points and finished the game with a combined 35 points on the afternoon.
One of the areas Will Wade talked about LSU needing to be great at in order to pull out a win was its transition defense. It's been an area that LSU has struggled with at times and Auburn is as fast a team in terms of pace in the entire SEC.
“I thought our defense led to our offense. We were able to get the stops. We were able to get out on offense," Wade said. "We outscored them 25-to-13 in transition. We basically doubled them up in transitions. Did a phenomenal job on the offensive glass."
LSU was able to keep the Auburn offense at bay by being extremely efficient on offense and absolutely controlling the glass. The purple and gold dominated the rebounding advtantage 23-10 in the first half and 46-38 for the game, leading to 18 second chance points.
Scoring efficiently on offense kept Auburn from pushing in transition on missed shots and turnovers and the play out of LSU's "Big Four" was the real turning point. LSU shot 53% from the field and 50% from three as all four of Thomas, Smart, Days and Trendon Watford had their moments to shine, scoring in double figures.
Thomas scored a game high 27 points, Days dropped 17 while Smart and Watford each scored 16 and 18 points each.
"I think we all took pretty good shots, getting out in transition," Watford said. "Me being able to get the ball off the rim and push it, that's one of the things I pride myself on. Getting out in transition was a big thing tonight so we didn't have to go up against their set defense."
Even outside of LSU's top guys, role players like Josh Leblanc, Eric Gaines and Aundre Hyatt all had moments of brilliance as well. Whether it was out in transition, battling for rebounds or just converting on second chance opportunities, all three have played major roles in the Tigers' recent success.
"We’re getting more comfortable with each other, starting to trust each other even more," Watford said. "That’s been a good thing we’ve been doing these past few games. Everybody was a contributor tonight.”
Auburn dialed up the pressure down 20 in the first half and was able to cut into a once 22 point advantage for the Tigers by the end of the half, going on a 11-5 run to make it a 50-34 LSU advantage at the break.
The pressure remained consistent from Auburn in the second half but LSU continued to find success on offense as great ball movement and dribble penetration led to open shot after open shot. For much of the final 20 minutes, LSU was constantly getting out in transition because of great defense and converting off of turnovers.
The purple and gold finished with 21 points off of 12 Auburn turnovers.
LSU will be back in action at Georgia on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to look for a fourth straight win.