The Auburn Tigers are heading into the new year with a 12-1 record to start the 2021-22 season. The lone loss on the season was in a 115-109 double-overtime game against Connecticut in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November. They opened SEC play on Wednesday night with an impressive 70-55 win over then 12-0 LSU. Auburn went into that game ranked 11th in the country and LSU was 16th. The Auburn Tigers currently sit as the highest-ranked team out of the SEC.
Big Win Over LSU
18-1 Start for Auburn
Auburn got off to a fast start against LSU on Wednesday. They built a quick 18-1 lead with 10:55 left in the first half. Walker Kessler had three blocks during that stretch and was on top of his game the entire night. The North Carolina transfer had 11 blocks against LSU and added in 16 points and ten rebounds. Kessler is currently third in the nation with 4.2 blocks per game.
LSU Defense Shows Up
LSU did not give up though and went on a 17-6 run to get within six with 3:29 until the halftime break. After going 0-16 to start, LSU hit on four of six shots. The comeback was made possible due to some great LSU defense. After a Jabari Smith three with 6:46 left in the first half, Auburn went over four minutes without scoring. After LSU made the game close, Smith closed the first half in a way that shows why he is a potential number one draft pick. In the final two minutes of the half, he scored six of his nine first-half points. This included a clutch mid-range shot as time was expiring to put Auburn up 32-21.
Second Half Separation for Auburn
The second half was much of the same from the first half. Every time it seemed LSU was getting some momentum; Auburn would distance once again. They scored a quick five points to go up 36-21 after a pair of Smith three throws. LSU narrowed the score to 48-42 with 7:54 left in the game. They stayed within ten points for the next three minutes before a Kessler dunk put Auburn up 59-48 with 4:08 left. Allen Flanigan would then hit a three with 3:35 left to put Auburn up 62-48, and they never looked back.
LSU was led in the game by Xavier Pinson with 13 points with four rebounds and three assists. Both Darius Days and Tari Eason had 11 points each. Auburn will continue SEC play on Tuesday when they travel to play South Carolina who is 9-3 on the season. LSU will try to bounce back against Kentucky on that same night.
Return of Allen Flanigan
Auburn got a big addition to the starting lineup with returning Allen Flanigan. It was the second game of the season for the preseason All-SEC guard. He had been sidelined due to an Achilles injury. Flanigan scored ten points replacing Devan Cambridge who was out due to COVID-19 protocols. He was four for eight and two for four from three on the night. Having Flanigan back in the lineup makes Auburn an even more difficult team to deal with.
Newcomers Have Shined
The newcomers to this Auburn team have led the 12-1 start to the season. Kessler has been big on the defensive end and fourth on the team with 10 points per game. The attention getter of course is Smith who leads the team with 16.2 points per game. He is in the top five in scoring the SEC thus far. The team’s energy perhaps comes from Georgia transfer K.D. Johnson. The sophomore is third in the SEC with 2.2 steals per game, but it does not end there. He is a scoring threat as well and showcased that in the Battle 4 Atlantis loss to Connecticut. He scored his season-high 27 points against the Huskies. With these newcomers performing well with the addition of Flanigan, Auburn Tigers might stay undefeated in regulation for a while heading into the new year.
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