The Tigers are rolling into 2022 with a 10-game streak that was increased in dominating fashion on Tuesday.
Bruce Pearl’s first SEC road test of the 2022 season ended in a commanding 81-66 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, spearheaded by Auburn’s bench which accounted for 40 points of the Tigers’ 81 and Walker Kessler, who notched his second game in a row with another double-double on his scoresheet.
Auburn’s Jabari Smith took to the back burner, as one of the Tigers' main scoring threats for the first time this season, with Walker Kessler and Wendell Green running the show for the orange-and-blue.
Kessler maintained his status as a serious board threat, leading all players with 10 total rebounds.
The 7-foot-1 sophomore is now averaging at least a double-double in SEC play after two games played. He also snagged his season-average four blocks en route to the Tigers' win.
South Carolina’s shot making wasn’t there in the first half, as the team shot a collective 37% from the floor for the first 20 minutes, presenting Auburn with the prime opportunity to drive into the paint and take a 15-point lead into the half.
Auburn more than doubled USC's points in the paint in the first half, as Green continued to put up highlights on assists to teammates at and around the rim.
The Gamecocks closed the gap to just under 10 points at the seven-minute mark after trailing by as many as 20, but Auburn managed to hit its free throws and land shots when it needed to, with Smith landing two crowd-shushing shots in the final five minutes to extend the Tigers' lead beyond the reach of the Gamecocks.
Auburn (13-1) returns home to Auburn Arena to face Florida (9-3) on Saturday Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. CST before going on the road against archival Alabama and Ole Miss.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
Larry is a senior studying journalism with a minor in sociology. He is from Enterprise, Alabama and is in his third year with The Auburn Plainsman.