Auburn routs LSU, improves tourney hopesMar 8, 2009 - 12:40 AM AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Auburn improved its NCAA Tournament chances Saturday as senior forward Korvotney Barber recorded 16 points and 17 rebounds in a 69-53 upset of 11th-ranked Louisiana State.
With Barber making the final home appearance of his career, Auburn (21-10, 10-6 SEC West) ended the regular season by winning four straight and eight of its last nine games.
"It's a great team win for us," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "We battled hard and defended them very well. I'm awfully proud of our team and what we've done coming down this stretch."
LSU (25-6, 13-3 SEC West), which already had clinched the top seed in next week's SEC tournament, dropped its second straight. The Tigers were coming off a 75-67 home loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
With more at stake, Auburn took control late in the first half, using a 12-2 spurt to open a 31-21 lead on Lucas Hargrove's layup with three minutes remaining.
"Korvotney Barber was absolutely terrific today," Lebo added. "He had 16 points and 17 rebounds in 28 minutes with two blocks and four assists."
Holding a 34-28 edge at the halftime, Auburn put away the contest early in the second half, building its cushion to 48-32 on Rasheem Barrett's dunk with 16:17 to play.
Marcus Thornton scored 23 points for LSU, which was held to its lowest point total of the season.
After engaging in a running feud with the officials throughout the first half, LSU coach Trent Johnson was slapped with a technical foul as he walked toward the locker room at the break. He had to be restrained by one of his players.
Barber's effort helped Auburn overcome a dismal performance from outside as the team was just 2-of-16 from 3-point range.
"He was unbelievable and incredibly active off of the glass," Lebo said. "I think he had five rebounds in the first half. He was all over the glass with his quickness. We were 2-of-16 from three and if you would have told me that we'd be 2-of-16 from the three and win the game, I'd say you were insane."
Now Auburn heads into the SEC Tournament as the hottest team in the league and the only one to beat both division winners. The Tigers also defeated East champion Tennessee, and Lebo thinks they now should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
"The way we're playing right now, I don't think that after this win against LSU, with us being the only team to beat LSU and Tennessee - the two top teams in our league - I don't think you can ignore that," he said.
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