The Tigers responded with a big spurt and a 68-63 win over LSU on Wednesday night to open Southeastern Conference play. Allen Payne led the way with 15 points.
“The thing we have been talking about with this team is continuing to fight, no matter what’s happening,” Barbee said. “There’s going to be adversity in the game in some form or fashion.
“Early on in the season, we would let this affect us.”
This time Auburn (7-7) rode a 24-7 run after that timeout to the team’s fifth win in seven games, snapping a streak of five straight defeats in SEC openers.
LSU (9-3, 0-1), which fell to 1-3 in road games, used a 22-6 run to lead 33-27 early in the second half before getting overtaken. Auburn was up by 14 with just over a minute left.
“I told the guys leading up to the game that the preseason games are over,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “It’s conference play and the intensity level is different. The importance of the game is different.”
The results were different, too.
Freshman Shaquille Johnson scored a season-high 11 points and matched his best total with nine rebounds for Auburn.
Frankie Sullivan, the SEC’s No. 2 scorer, added 10 points before fouling out in the final minute while Rob Chubb had eight points and eight boards.
Payne scored the game’s first seven points and was pleased with the resilience Auburn showed after the slow start to the second half.
“I just think we’re starting to grow up a lot,” Payne said, “and it showed when we started this spark back.”
Charles Carmouche led LSU with 15 points and hit two of his four 3-pointers in the final 22 seconds.
Anthony Hickey had 13 points and three steals. Andrew Stringer also scored 13 points while making 3 of 6 3-pointers.
LSU’s leading scorer, Shavon Coleman, scored a season-low four points after coming in having recorded back-to-back double-doubles in points and rebounds. He was 2-of-9 shooting but led the team with nine rebounds. Johnny O’Bryant had played just five minutes in the past two games with a lower left leg injury. He had six points and seven rebounds but also committed four turnovers.
“I think his layoff hurt him,” Jones said. “He just wasn’t fluid enough for us inside or out.”
Added O’Bryant: “I didn’t feel 100 percent but I went out there and tried to give my team all I could.”
LSU closed the 14-point gap mostly with Carmouche’s 3s that were too late to muster a real threat.
Auburn’s No. 2 scorer, Chris Denson, missed his second straight game with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Payne continued to pick up some of the slack. He had scored a career-high 17 in the last game, a win over Florida State, and also had four assists in this game.
LSU trailed by eight points three times but led 28-27 at halftime and scored the first five points of the second half. That forced Barbee to call a timeout less than a minute after coming out of the locker room.
The game turned after that with the big run.
Auburn spread out the scoring in retaking control of the game with all eight players seeing action scoring at least five points.
Auburn hit 14 of 26 shots (54 percent) in the second half. LSU shot just 37 percent (25 of 67).