Work in Sports
Worst to first
LSU clinches SEC West, ends Auburn home streak at 30
Posted: Thursday March 02, 2000 08:33 AM
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Chris Porter helped Auburn win its first ever Southeastern Conference title a year ago. On Wednesday night, his absence helped LSU win its first divisional crown.
Suspended for taking $2,500 from a sports agent, Auburn's star forward could only watch as No. 12 LSU pounded the 19th-ranked Tigers inside and pulled out a 55-53 victory.
The win gave LSU (24-4, 11-4) its first ever SEC West title -- the Tigers won a share of the overall title in 1990 before the league spit into divisions -- and it snapped Auburn's 30-game home winning streak.
"The difference tonight was their size down low," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "We couldn't match up with them at all."
In other words, Auburn (21-7, 9-6) was no match without the 6-foot-7 Porter.
Led by the 6-foot-11 Jabari Smith and 6-foot-9 Stromile Swift, LSU outrebounded Auburn 49-40 -- 34 of which were defensive rebounds -- and scored 32 points in the paint. LSU also had a season high 13 blocks, while Auburn didn't have one.
"Because Chris Porter was out, Auburn was kind of small," said Swift, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks. "I definitely had an easier time rebounding then I did when he was in the lineup."
Porter's absence was most felt on LSU's game winning sequence, when Smith scored on a putback with 16 seconds to play and was fouled by Mamadou N'diaye. Smith made the ensuing free throw to give LSU a 55-51 lead and make Abe Smith's layup at the buzzer meaningless.
It spoiled the final game for Auburn's four seniors, who are the winningest class in school history with 82 wins. Porter was included in the senior night celebration before the game, but was forced to watch from the bench in street clothes.
Without him, Auburn tried to play an up-tempo perimeter game, but failed miserably because of atrocious shooting. Auburn shot a season-low 26 percent and was 6-for-36 from 3-point range.
"They blocked so many shots that it affected the way we shot the rest of the way," Ellis said.
LSU finished last in the league a year ago, and was picked to finish fifth this season. LSU coach John Brady said he isn't ready to celebrate the turnaround.
"We will not celebrate winning the West right now, that is what our banquet is for at the end of the year," Brady said.
LSU trailed the entire first half, but took the lead with 8:36 to play on Collis Temple's layup that made it 45-43. LSU slowly pushed it to 51-43 -- its largest lead of the game -- with 5:27 to play.
But Auburn, which made just six field goals in the second half and went almost nine minutes without scoring, slowly pulled back in it.
Mack McGadney hit two free throws to make it 51-45 with 4:14 to play. Neither team scored again until Auburn's Scott Pohlman hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds to go that made it 51-48. Auburn fouled Stromile Swift on the next possession and he made one free throw to make it 52-48.
Auburn's Daymeon Fishback hit a 3 to make it 52-51 with 27 seconds to go. LSU then broke Auburn's press and Smith was fouled by Mamadou N'diaye on a putback and made his free throw to seal the win.
Ronald Dupree led LSU with 16 points, while Swift had 12 points and seven of LSU's season-high 13 blocks.
McGadney led Auburn with 17 points, while Pohlman had 11, including the 1,000th of his career.
Auburn led by 12 with 5:23 to play in the first half, but
N'diaye was on the bench with three fouls and LSU closed the half
with a 10-0 run and trailed just 29-27 at halftime.