Kessler, No. 11 Auburn topple unbeaten No. 16 LSU 70-55

Dec 29, 2021, 4:31 AM | Updated: 7:40 pm
LSU forward Darius Days (4) reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball g...

LSU forward Darius Days (4) reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn’s Walker Kessler blocked three shots before LSU made a single one.

It was that kind of night for both Auburn’s 7-foot-1 center and LSU’s offense.

Kessler had 16 points, a career-high 11 blocked shots and 10 rebounds to lead No. 11 Auburn to a 70-55 victory over previously unbeaten No. 16 LSU on Wednesday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

“I think that we have, if not the best defense in the country, one of the most elite ones,” Kessler said. “I think we showed that tonight. We played aggressive, blocked shots, went after loose balls.”

Kessler got the second triple double in Auburn’s program history, but it didn’t become official until well after the game ended.

Auburn’s official scorer changed the stats to credit Kessler with a rebound that had initially gone down as a team board with 9:55 left in the first half. It became official more than 90 minutes after the game ended.

Kenny Gabriel had Auburn’s only other triple double on Jan. 2, 2012 against Bethune-Cookman.

Freshman Jabari Smith also scored 16 points for Auburn (12-1), which has won nine straight and didn’t give up a field goal in the opening 10 minutes.

LSU (12-1), which came as one of major college basketball’s five unbeaten teams, scored just one point in the first 10:45 but still managed to pull to within six a couple of times in the second half.

It was the lone regular-season matchup between two of the SEC’s top contenders.

“We don’t want anybody to do our work for us,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “So it was an opportunity not only for us to get one (win) but to give them one (loss).”

Kessler made 6 of 8 shots, including his fourth 3-pointer of the season, and fell a rebound shy of the second triple double in Auburn history. He contested a 3-point shot at the end instead of going for the potential rebound.

Wendell Green Jr. had 15 points and preseason All-SEC guard Allen Flanigan scored 10 in his first start.

Flanigan returned against Murray State and scored three points after missing the first 11 games recovering from Achilles surgery.

“We’ve been missing Allen,” Kessler said. “It’s so good to see him back out on the court. He’s a big part of our team.”

Xavier Pinson had 13 points when he fouled out with 5:32 left for LSU. Leading scorer Tari Eason, who missed the Lipscomb game with back spasms, got foul No. 5 a couple of minutes later and scored 11. Darius Days also scored 11.

“I thought we played with tremendous effort,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “We played our hearts out. We just didn’t play with the discipline and the smarts that we needed.

“The start was obviously not great again, but we cut it to six in both halves.”

Auburn turned the tables on one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.

LSU missed 16 straight shots to open the game, 11 of them from 3-point range, and had three of them blocked by Kessler. LSU’s Eric Gaines did snap a personal string of 21 straight missed 3-point attempts late in the game.

“It really showed the young guys what the SEC’s about,” Days said.

The host Tigers were playing without guard Devan Cambridge, who announced Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19. Cambridge was averaging 7.8 points and 3.3 rebounds a game.

LSU guard Brandon Murray didn’t play after pulling a muscle while stretching in practice this week, Wade said.


LSU actually scored first with a free throw by Gaines before giving up an 18-0 run. The nation’s No. 2 scoring defense helped keep it from getting quite so out of hand. Shot just 18 of 63 (28.6%) and had four assists and 17 turnovers.

Auburn allowed 21 first-half points, the fifth-fewest given the team has given up before the half at Auburn Arena. “Our defense was outstanding,” Pearl said. “It starts and ends with Walker Kessler.”


Smith’s father, Jabari Smith Sr., played at LSU for two seasons, averaging 17.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in his career. Drafted 45th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2000, the elder Smith also played for the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

UP NEXT LSU hosts No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Auburn visits South Carolina on Tuesday, Jan. 4.


More AP college basketball: and and

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


FILE - Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe speaks during a news confe...
Associated Press

Guinea removed as host of 2025 African Cup in latest switch

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The African soccer confederation has removed Guinea as host of the 2025 African Cup of Nations because of inadequate infrastructure, the latest in a series of switches and delays for the continental championship over the last 10 years. The decision was announced late Friday night and after Confederation of […]
1 day ago
Gold medalists the United States celebrate on the podium after defeating China in the final at the ...
Associated Press

US women win fourth straight gold at World Cup, top China

SYDNEY (AP) — The names on the U.S. team have changed, the Americans’ dominance has not. A’ja Wilson scored 19 points, Kelsey Plum added 17 and the United States beat China 83-61 on Saturday to win its fourth consecutive gold medal at the women’s basketball World Cup. “It feels great,” said Wilson, who was selected […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Brumfield TD run sparks UNLV over New Mexico 31-20

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Doug Brumfield threw for 233 yards and ran for a second-half touchdown as UNLV scored 24 unanswered points and beat New Mexico 31-20 on Friday night. Brumfield rolled to his left before diving over a defender and into the end zone from six yards out to tie the game 17-17 midway […]
1 day ago
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) stiff-arms Washington linebacker Carson Bruener durin...
Associated Press

Thompson-Robinson leads UCLA past No. 15 Washington, 40-32

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Dorian Thompson-Robinson had read and heard the comments about UCLA’s unbeaten start not meaning much due to the quality of opponents it played. On Friday night, Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins made sure to make a statement with their first victory over a top-15 team since 2014. Thompson-Robinson passed for 315 yards […]
1 day ago
Fans watch as New York Yankees' Aaron Judge comes to bat during the third inning of the team's base...
Associated Press

Yankees star Judge tries again for AL-record 62nd home run

A look at Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees as he approaches major home run milestones: Season HR Total: 61 Friday’s Game: Went 1 for 2 with two walks in a 2-1 loss to Baltimore. Judge also is bidding for the first Triple Crown since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Judge leads the AL […]
1 day ago
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria (10) celebrates with Mike Yastrzemski (5) after hitting a two-r...
Associated Press

Longoria 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, Giants win 10 of 11, beat Dbacks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Evan Longoria homered twice and drove in five runs as the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-4 Friday night for their 10th win in 11 games. Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Wynns also went deep as San Francisco (79-78) moved above .500 for the first time since Aug. 17. The […]
1 day ago
Kessler, No. 11 Auburn topple unbeaten No. 16 LSU 70-55