No. 1 Auburn bounced back from an overtime loss at Arkansas on Tuesday by destroying struggling Texas A&M, 75-58, Saturday afternoon behind a rare SEC triple-double by 7-foot-1 center Walker Kessler.
Kessler, a sophomore who transferred from North Carolina after last season, scored 12 points with 11 rebounds and 12 blocked shots to become just the fifth SEC player in history to record multiple triple-doubles.
Former LSU center Shaquille O’Neal holds the league record with six triple-doubles from 1989-92, followed by Alabama’s Roy Rogers with two, Florida’s Nick Calathes with two and Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado with two.
“It means a lot,” Kessler said in an SEC Network interview after the game. “A lot of great players in the SEC. Personally, I think it’s the best conference.”
Kessler blocked four of A&M’s first seven shots.
Auburn (23-2, 11-1 SEC) was never threatened by the Aggies (15-10, 4-8 SEC), who lost their eighth straight game. Third-year A&M coach Buzz Williams is looking like a rare bad hire by athletic director Scott Woodward, who attracted him from Virginia Tech after the 2018-19 season when Woodward was A&M’s athletic director before leaving to become LSU’s athletic director.
In football, Woodward has had more success, hiring Jimbo Fisher to A&M from Florida State after the 2017 season, and as Washington’s athletic director, he hired Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen.
Williams, who was 16-14 and 10-8 in the SEC in his first season in 2019-20, appears headed to his second straight losing season in conference play. The Aggies were 8-10 and 2-8 for 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC in 2020-21.
Allen Flanigan led Auburn with 16 points, K.D. Johnson had 11 and Devan Cambridge scored 10. Henry Coleman III scored 10 points with 13 rebounds for the Aggies, and Quenton Jackson scored 11.
ALABAMA 68, ARKANSAS 67
Arkansas failed to follow its upset of No. 1 Auburn on Tuesday as it fell at Alabama, 68-67, and saw its nine-game winning streak end.
JD Davison scored 11 to lead the Crimson Tide (16-9, 6-6), and Jaden Shackelford scored 10. Seven Alabama players hit one 3-pointer.
Alabama’s defense held SEC leading scorer JD Notae to 12 points – seven below his average. Jaylin Williams scored 22 to lead the Razorbacks (19-6, 8-4).