BATON ROUGE, La. -- Kenny Gabriel had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Auburn erased a 15-point second-half deficit to close out its regular season with a 60-51 victory over LSU on Saturday night.
Earnest Ross had 16 points and 10 rebounds, scoring six points during a pivotal 23-4 run that put Auburn (11-19, 4-12 SEC) in the lead for good with 5:51 to go.Storm Warren had 14 points for LSU (11-20, 3-13), which scored only nine points in the final 13:29 of the game on its way to losing 13 of 14 games to close the regular season.Auburn, meanwhile, finished the season with two straight wins, including a comeback from 20 points down against Mississippi last Wednesday.LSU appeared to be breaking the game open with an 11-0 run early in the second half.Ralston Turner's driving layup as he was fouled highlighted the spurt, which was capped by Eddie Ludwig's fast-break dunk on a long inbound from Matt Derenbecker to make it 40-25.Auburn missed seven shots during the spurt and did not get its first field goal of the second half until Allen Payne's 3-pointer made it 40-28 with 13:46 to go.That shot turned out to be the beginning of the decisive surge that gave Auburn a 48-44 lead that had the sparse crowd grumbling inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.Rob Chubb and Ross each scored six during the surge and Payne had five, with Gabriel adding an alley-oop dunk on a lob from Josh Wallace.LSU went 10:14 without a field goal before Warren scored inside to make it 48-46, but Auburn responded with Wallace's floater and Ross' free throws, and Gabriel added a jumper soon after that made it 54-48 with 1:45 to go.Both teams were plagued by sloppiness and inaccurate shooting for significant stretches, each shooting a little below 37 percent.LSU was 2 of 15 on 3-pointers and Auburn was 2 of 11 from deep. Auburn had 21 turnovers to LSU's 18.Auburn was the superior rebounding team, with a 46-31 advantage.Ross hit Auburn's opening shot of the game, a 3-pointer that gave his team its only lead of the half at 3-2.Warren, who made five of his first six shots, followed up Andre Stringer's deep 3 with a jump hook during an early 7-0 run that made it 9-3.While Auburn opened the game shooting 4 of 13 and committed 11 turnovers in the first 16 minutes, LSU jumped out to a 24-11 lead. That stretch included an 11-2 LSU run during which Derenbecker and Ludwig, former high school teammates from the New Orleans area, combined for nine points.Derenbecker assisted on Ludwig's fast-break layup, then added a 3 and a pull-up jumper.Garrett Green's layup capped the run. Then Auburn started to claw back as Gabriel scored 10 points during the last 4:11 of the half.Aaron Dotson had LSU's only two field goals during the last 5 minutes of the half, and his pull-up jumper put LSU ahead 29-21. Chubb then scored inside as he was fouled with 6 seconds left, pulling Auburn to 29-24 at halftime.