Auburn, AL - The No. 1 Auburn Tigers will remain on top of the rankings after a 86-68 win today in the Big12/SEC Challenge. They defeated Oklahoma behind Jabari Smith’s big day. He posted 23 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Tigers (20-1, 8-0 SEC) earned their first No. 1 spot in program history and will remain there with a win today. Potential No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, Jabari Smith, entered today leading the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game. North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler is having a great season averaging 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.2 blocks.
The Sooners (13-8, 3-5 Big 12) and their new head coach, Porter Moser, started well this season but ran into a wall when conference play started. They lost 4 of their last 5 entering this one. Eastern Washington transfer Tanner Groves leads the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game.
Kessler and Smith got started early and helped Auburn jump out to a 23-10 lead. The Tigers took a 39-27 lead into the break with Kessler leading all scorers with 13 points. Jordan Goldwire had a strong half for the Sooners and posted 12 points and 2 steals. The teams combined for only 6 points off the bench.
Umoja Gibson hit a couple quick buckets at the start of the second half, cutting the lead to 44-35. Oklahoma would cut the deficit to 50-47 before Auburn’s Devan Cambridge scored 5 unanswered. Goldwire and company tried to keep it close, but the Tiger offense was too much to handle and secured a 86-68 victory.
Kessler and K.D. Johnson had terrific days for the Tigers. Kessler continued to dominate inside and ended with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Johnson scored 13 points.
Gibson had a positive second half and finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Groves posted 13 points for Oklahoma.