The last undefeated men's basketball team in the SEC fell Wednesday night as No. 16 LSUlost to No.11 Auburn 70-55 in the conference opener at the Auburn Arena.
The Tigers (12-1, 0-1 SEC) fell behind early due to a poor offensive first half in which they scored just 21 points, their lowest-scoring half of the season, and shot 20% from the field. The slow start allowed Auburn (12-1, 1-0) to go on a 19-3 run to start the game.
Defensively, the Tigers did a decent job against an Auburn team that boasts one of the best offenses in the nation, averaging 81.1 points per game coming into the matchup. Auburn shot just 43% from the field and 30% from 3-point range.
“I thought we played with tremendous effort,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “We played our hearts out. We just didn’t play with the discipline and the smarts that we needed.
“The start was obviously not great again, but we cut it to six in both halves.”
Xavier Pinson led LSU with 13 points and Darius Days and Tari Eason had 11 apiece.
“It really showed the young guys what the SEC’s about,” Days said.
It was the first time that LSU has lost its conference opener since 2017, Wade's first season.
Here's what we learned from LSU's loss.
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Slow start finally proves costly
Against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 18, LSU was able to overcome a poor offensive performance against the Bulldogs en route to a come-from-behind victory.
However, the Tigers put themselves in too big of an early hole Wednesday against Auburn.
After scoring the first point of the game off a free throw, LSU missed its first 16 shots, not making a field goal until there were 9:14 remaining in the first half. By the time the Tigers made their first shot, Auburn was ahead 18-3.
LSU made continuous efforts to cut into the lead but never managed to get closer than six points in the second half.
Overreliant on the three
Three-point shooting has not been a strength for LSU this season, shooting 32%. Yet the majority of the Tigers' field goal attempts, particularly during early stretches of the game, were 3-pointers.
As LSU started 0-of-16 from the field, 11 of those shots came from beyond the arc, getting away from its strength of scoring in the paint. Ultimately, LSU missed its first 12 3-pointers contributing to the early deficit.
The Tigers ended the game shooting just 21% from 3-point range.
Inability to capitalize
Despite the struggles, LSU led Auburn in two key areas, turnovers and offensive rebounds. The Tigers turned it over 17 times to Auburn's 21 and outrebounded their opponents 15-11 on the offensive glass.
However, LSU wasn't able to capitalize on the extra opportunities as the Tigers trailed in points off turnovers and second-chance points. Auburn led 17-16 and 9-5 in each respective category.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Three things we learned from LSU men's basketball loss to Auburn