No. 13 Auburn gets past UNA, goes 2-0 with Pearl suspended

Dec 14, 2021, 6:12 AM | Updated: 8:45 pm

Auburn guard K.D. Johnson (0) scores two points as North Alabama forward Pape Momar Cisse (35) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)


AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers produced two lopsided wins minus coach Bruce Pearl. Now, he’s on his way back.

Walker Kessler had 14 points, Jabari Smith and Devan Cambridge each scored 13, and No. 13 Auburn beat North Alabama 70-44 on Tuesday night in the Tigers’ second and final game without their suspended coach.

The Tigers (9-1), who won their sixth straight, didn’t push their lead into double digits until five minutes into the second half but made up for it with a 25-2 run to put away the Lions (6-4).

Auburn completed Pearl’s NCAA-imposed suspension with a second straight blowout. His son, Steven Pearl, served as head coach on Tuesday after Wes Flanigan presided over a 99-68 win Saturday over Nebraska.

“Nobody tried to be Bruce Pearl,” Cambridge said. “They both had their own strategies. They were just themselves.”

Pearl’s suspension was part of the NCAA penalties, including four years of probation, imposed on Auburn for unethical conduct involving former associate head coach Chuck Person. Pearl was cited for failing to monitor his assistant and adequately promote compliance.

Steven Pearl said his fellow Auburn assistants and the support staff helped fill the coaching void.

“It made these two games so much easier because we were just prepared to take on something like this,” he said.

Bruce Pearl wasn’t allowed to speak to his staff or players until midnight and his son figured he’d likely be getting a call.

Smith had 10 rebounds while Kessler grabbed eight boards and blocked five shots. Wendell Green Jr. had 12 points and six assists.

Cambridge scored 10 points in the second half, including a breakaway, reverse dunk during the decisive run off a bounce pass from Green.

“All year I’ve been waiting for a fast-break like that,” Cambridge said. “I was thinking about that the whole game.”

Daniel Ortiz led North Alabama with 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting. C.J. Brim scored nine points for the Lions, who made just 18 of 61 shots (29.5%).

North Alabama scored just 17 points in the second half.

“All the credit goes to coach Steven Pearl and just the way he prepared his team,” Lions coach Tony Pujol said. “Their defense was stifling. Our guys really struggled in the second half.”

Kessler hit three straight inside baskets to finally push the lead into double digits, but it was just the start of Auburn’s hot stretch. The Tigers blocked 11 shots.

“The first half we were very sloppy offensively,” Steven Pearl said. “Did a very bad job of executing. Their physicality bothered us.”


North Alabama kept it close most of the way with strong defense in the Lions’ second game against a ranked team since moving up to Division I in the 2018-19 season.

Auburn, which jumped five spots in the AP Top 25 to its highest ranking of the season this week, started slowly and only led 32-27 at halftime.


Key Auburn reserve Jaylin Williams was out of the game with turf toe. The forward is averaging 7.9 points per game. Pearl said he got out of his boot Tuesday and is hopeful for the next game.


North Alabama hosts Southeastern Baptist on Saturday.

Auburn visits Saint Louis on Saturday night.


More AP college basketball: and and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Former El Salvador soccer boss sentenced in US bribery case

NEW YORK (AP) — The former president of El Salvador’s soccer federation was sentenced on Thursday to 16 months in prison in the long-running FIFA corruption scandal. Reynaldo Vasquez, 66, told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that he felt “great shame” over his role in a bribery scheme that involved media and marketing […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett leaves the field after the first half of an NFL...
Associated Press

Garrett back with Browns, cited for speeding following crash

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns All-Pro Myles Garrett returned to the team’s headquarters Thursday after crashing his car earlier this week when police said he lost control while speeding on a rural road after practice. Garrett veered his Porsche off the hilly road near his home a few hours after practice Monday, flipping the […]
1 day ago
Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras celebrates with relief pitcher Tyler Matzek after a baseba...
Associated Press

Big series in A-T-L: Mets vs Braves with NL East on the line

ATLANTA (AP) — Two months into the season, it looked like the New York Mets were headed for an NL East runaway. Not so fast, said the reigning World Series champions. Sparked by two budding stars, the Atlanta Braves suddenly found their mojo. Now, they’re a mere game behind the Mets heading into the biggest […]
1 day ago
Supporters of the the The Minnesota Vikings team cheer at a fan interaction event at The Brotherhoo...
Associated Press

NFL teams use new rights to jockey for fans, revenue in UK

LONDON (AP) — The “J-E-T-S” chants gave way to British-accented berating of quarterback Joe Flacco at the London sports pub where fans watched the Cincinnati Bengals ease to victory last week. Sebastian Randazzo is optimistic, though. The young Englishman who founded a Jets fan club said interest in the NFL is “absolutely booming.” “Hopefully we […]
1 day ago
United States' Breanna Stewart waves to a supporter in the crowd following their win over Bosnia an...
Associated Press

Without Griner, US using versatile posts Stewart and Wilson

SYDNEY (AP) — Without Brittney Griner’s 6-foot-8 presence to dominate around the basket, the U.S. women needed to figure out how to overcome her absence. So far, so good. The Americans have rolled through the World Cup, beating opponents by average of 44 points per game without Griner and one of the best frontcourts ever […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs praying coach, no sweeping changes

Across the ideological spectrum, there were predictions of dramatic consequences when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a public high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after games. Yet three months after the decision — and well into the football season — there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches […]
1 day ago
No. 13 Auburn gets past UNA, goes 2-0 with Pearl suspended