Kessler Blocks 12, Gets Triple-Double, No. 1 Auburn Tops A&M

By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports activities Author

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Walker Kessler did it once more for No. 1 Auburn.

Kessler recorded his second triple-double in six weeks, and simply the third in program historical past, because the Tigers bounced again from a loss with a 75-58 victory over Texas A&M.

Kessler’s ultimate tally: 12 blocked photographs, 12 factors and 11 rebounds Saturday. He is emerged as a star after enjoying a lesser position as a freshman for North Carolina.

“He’s one of the crucial dominant gamers in all of school basketball,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl stated. “How would you could have ever thought that you might say {that a} yr in the past?”

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The identical may very well be stated for his group.

The 7-foot-1 Tar Heels switch rejected 4 of the Aggies’ first seven photographs and swatted away unhealthy emotions from earlier within the week. The Tigers (22-3, 11-1 Southeastern Convention) had their 19-game successful streak stopped by Arkansas in time beyond regulation.

And Kessler’s teammates have been capable of funnel the offensive gamers in his route, with outcomes which can be changing into pretty predictable.

“They make it simple to dam photographs as a result of they’re so good at defending the ball,” he stated. “They know that I can block the photographs so that they corral the guard to me so I wouldn’t be capable to do this type of stuff with out them.”

The Aggies (15-10, 4-8) dropped their eighth straight sport and had one in every of their worst offensive performances of the season.

Allen Flanigan scored a season-high 16 factors for Auburn whereas Ok.D. Johnson added 11 and Devan Cambridge 10. Jabari Smith had 9 factors and eight rebounds. Kessler scored 10 factors within the second half.

Henry Coleman III had 10 factors and 13 rebounds for Texas A&M, whereas Quenton Jackson scored 11. Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV additionally had 10 factors.

Aggies coach Buzz Williams referred to as Auburn “a group that’s ok to win the nationwide championship.”

“I at all times need to give credit score to the opponent,” Williams stated. “I do assume there have been some photographs, significantly within the first half, that possibly you’d say, ought to we have now shot it? We have been a bit of bit out of kinds on three or 4 possessions.”

The Aggies had been 5-0 at Auburn Enviornment however trailed by as many as 25 on this one. However the 3-of-25 capturing from 3-point vary might come again to hang-out the Tigers.

“Our group performed actually laborious at present in entrance of a nationwide tv viewers,” Pearl stated. “They performed actually good protection. We didn’t make as many photographs as we have to to get to the purpose the place we really feel like we’re particular, however that’s what must be accomplished.”

Auburn level guard Zep Jasper returned to the beginning lineup after lacking the final two video games with a non-COVID-19 sickness.

“Zep brings the hearth on protection,” Flanigan stated. “He will rise up in you and he’s going to play protection and transfer his ft. He’s going to lock down whoever he’s in entrance of on a given evening.”

Each groups began off chilly, with Auburn lacking its first 5 photographs and Texas A&M opening 0 for 7. Johnson’s fast-break layup on the buzzer gave Auburn a 33-18 halftime lead.

Texas A&M simply managed to keep away from its lowest scoring output of the season, 57 factors towards Butler on Nov. 23. Made simply 7 of 39 photographs within the first half (17.9%) and 19 of 70 (27.1% general).

Auburn confirmed resilience in bouncing again from its first loss since November, an 80-76 time beyond regulation defeat.

Auburn soccer coach Bryan Harsin mingled with college students within the stands in the course of the sport. He had lots to have a good time a day after President Jay Gogue introduced the coach could be retained following an investigation into this system after plenty of participant and employees departures.

“I’m actually comfortable for coach Harsin, his household, his employees,” Pearl stated. “And I stay up for working with him and his entire group to maintain making Auburn the every little thing college it’s. It’s good to get that behind us.”

Texas A&M hosts Florida on Tuesday evening.

Auburn hosts Vanderbilt on Wednesday evening.

Extra AP school basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/Faculty-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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