‘I Felt Sorry For Them’ – Auburn’s Jabari Smith After Career-High 31 To Beat Vanderbilt, 94-80

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No. 2 Auburn fell behind Vanderbilt 11-0 and trailed through most of the first half, but in the end, the Commodores could not answer freshman forward Jabari Smith as the Tigers won 94-80 in front of 9,121 in Auburn, Alabama.

Smith scored a career-high 31 points, including 12 straight in a 16-point first half to bring Auburn (24-2, 12-1 SEC) back. He hit 7 of 10 from 3-point range and doubled his scoring average of 15.2 points a game.

“Vanderbilt came out a little hot. We knew we had to bring it on both ends,” Smith said on the SEC Network.

Auburn took its first lead at 39-38 with 45 seconds left in the first half on a free throw by center Walker Kessler, who scored 22 points with seven rebounds and seven blocked shots. Another Kessler free throw and a dunk put Auburn up 42-38 at the half.

Vanderbilt (13-12, 5-8 SEC) never led again, as Auburn went up 68-58 at the 10-minute mark and led by 90-70 with 2:31 to play. Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Commodores with 29 points, six assists and five steals, but he was 1-of-6 from 3-point range.

“I felt sorry for them,” Smith said of Vanderbilt’s inability to stop his 3-point shooting. “There was nothing they could do at the time.”

Wendell Green Jr. added 12 points and nine assists for Auburn, which next plays at Florida (16-10, 6-7) on Saturday at 2 p.m. eastern on ESPN.

No. 25 Alabama (17-9, 7-6) will play at No. 4 Kentucky (21-5, 10-3) at 1 p.m. on CBS in the first of two ranked SEC pairings Saturday. The Tide defeated Mississippi State, 80-75, Wednesday night at home behind Jahvon Quinerly’s 21 points and eight rebounds.

Alabama coach Nate Oats was ejected midway through the second half after his second technical foul, but his team held on as State (14-11, 5-7) missed 10 straight shots down the stretch to blow a 64-57 lead with 7:52 to go. Iverson Molinar led the Bulldogs with 22 points.

The other SEC ranked pairing: No. 16 Tennessee (19-6, 10-3) will be at No. 23 Arkansas (20-6, 9-4) Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN.

LSU also defeated Georgia 84-65 Wednesday night in Baton Rouge. Tari Eason scored 21 with nine rebounds and three steals for the Tigers (19-7, 7-6.) Kario Oquendo scored 26 to lead Georgia (6-20, 1-12), which committed 26 turnovers and lost its sixth straight.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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  1. Dang, that was a douche-y thing to say about your opponent. Choose your words better because that read horribly. I can’t pull for guys like that. Confidence is one thing, but disrespect I don’t have time for from anyone. I hope Auburn draws Vandy again in the SEC tourney after that comment. The Dores are no pushover this year. I can promise you they will remember that comment.

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