No. 16 LSU begins SEC play on national TV

Tipoff set for 6 p.m. at Auburn Arena
LSU forward Mwani Wilkinson (5) reacts during a college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La.,...
LSU forward Mwani Wilkinson (5) reacts during a college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)(Matthew Hinton | AP)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 8:22 AM CST
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AUBURN, Ala. (WAFB) - The No. 16 LSU men’s basketball team will face its biggest challenge of the season, so far, as they begin conference play on the road against Southeastern Conference rival No. 11 Auburn.

Tipoff at the Auburn Arena is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, and will be nationally televised on ESPN2. Richard Cross will be the play-by-play announcer and Joe Kleine will be the color commentator for the telecast.

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The matchup was previously scheduled to air on the premium cable channel ESPNU, but the sports network decided to move the game to ESPN2 after both teams moved up in both the AP Top 25 and Ferris Mowers coaches’ poll on Monday, Dec. 27.

Fourth-year head coach Will Wade has led LSU to a 12-0 record and they remain one of five unbeaten teams left in college basketball. They’ll look to stay undefeated as they face their first ranked opponent of the season.

Auburn, coached by Bruce Pearl, is 11-1 and currently on an eight-game win streak. The team’s only loss was to UConn in the first round of the tournament at Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 24.

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On a positive note, LSU is expected to have its full starting lineup on Wednesday after forward Tari Eason missed the last game, a 95-60 victory over Lipscomb on Dec. 22, due to back spasms.

LSU forward Tari Eason (13) celebrates during the second half of the team's NCAA college...
LSU forward Tari Eason (13) celebrates during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Atlanta.(Hakim Wright Sr. | AP)

Eason is one of three LSU players averaging in double figures with 16.3 points per game. Forward Darius Days is averaging 15 points per game and a team-high 8.5 rebounds. Guard Xavier Pinson is averaging 10.8 points and 4.6 assists.

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LSU did not play in the 9,000-seat Auburn Arena last season. Days and Pinson are the only players who have previously played in the arena during their college careers.

Auburn is averaging 81.1 points per game with a scoring margin of 16.2. Forward Jabari Smith leads the team in scoring with 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

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Smith is the son of Jabari Smith Sr. who played at LSU from 1998 to 2000. He was on the LSU squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

The game will be televised on ESPN2 (check your local listings for channel number) and available for streaming on the ESPN app. Audio of the game will be broadcast throughout the state on the LSU Sports Radio Network. CLICK HERE for the radio station in your area.

Next week, LSU will face back-to-back nationally ranked conference opponents, hosting both No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and No. 14 Tennessee on Saturday, Jan. 8.

LSU is one of nine schools (Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Kentucky, Ohio State, Tennesse, and Texas) ranked in both the men’s and women’s AP Top 25 polls.

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