Jabari Smith placed the burden on the matter of Auburns double-overtime loss to UConn on himself, taking to Twitter on Thanksgiving morning to shoulder the blame despite being on the defensive while ensuring a bounceback performance.
As soon as the Panthers defeated Loyola Chicago in the Battle 4 Atlantis opener, the 5-star freshman grabbed eight of the competitions final 14 points for a balanced effort that dominated the Tigers win over Loyola Chicago with six-year-old Thomas Smith score five of its final five baskets and gave both the Tigers and the Wildcats a 62-53 victory.
That is a NCAA Tournament team, said coach Bruce Pearl. That team is picked to win their league, and they played. They have been together for about three years; we have been together about three months.
Smith finished with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added four rebounds for the two players, which he also sat down in double-doubles, including 13 points and 10 rebounds for the second straight double-double, and Wendell Green Jr. added 10 points, all in the second half, with four rebounds and four assists.
We were very happy with the win, Pearl said. Yes, Jabari showed he was the best player here. Walker showed his best rim protector here, and I thought our children really stepped up.
Here are some takeaways from Auburn's bounceback win.
Walker Kessler finds his groove after he's found his groove.
For the second game of as many days, Walker Kessler gave a double-double for the game. The 7-foot-1 big man scored 14 points and a ten rebounds against the Oberlin River on Thanksgiving. He added four blocks, including the suffrage to the final minutes, and a pair of steals.
Kessler went off to a slow start this season, at least for the offensive side, scoring 13 points in the first three games and shooting just 6-of-15 from the field (and 0-for-7 from 3-point range) with the club's main team, but seems to be feeling a bit down in the Bahamas.
We have both to win a championship or a second round of the Battle 4, and we will need another one tomorrow if we can do whatever we want to be able to do, we have either Arizona State or Syracuse both really good teams, both meanwhile, and that will be our 3rd game in 36 hours.
This Tiger is a promising investment, as Kessler is starting to show why he's a 5-star prospect when he goes out of high school.
To the point where it increases, the more money it takes to make up a bit of time.
After the double-overtime victory, Bruce Pearl spent his post-game press conference on how Auburn lost in the second half of 2012, scolding the fact that they didnt get enough from their roster, all the while retaining the rank of the Tigers, saying that their greatest strength is in their depth.
That was the case against Loyola Chicago, as all the 10 Auburn players scored Thursday, that included walk-on Lior Berman, whose jumper was 11:31 to play ended a 4:13 score drought and gave Auburn plenty of breathing room. Both teams closed up with a little ton of space in the game.
He was funny to watch, Kessler said of Berman. His friends have good intentions. When he gets out there, he plays his tail off, always going after a ball, hitting difficult shots when needed.
Green sparked Auburn's offense early in the second half, with layup and then back-to-back three pointsering on three points. Smith's 14, Kesslers 13 and Green's 10. Green scored in double figures, to turn the Tigers into a runner up early, with re-offing a 0-6 win and on three pointsering on three points with layup.
I had 7 points and 4 steals in the first half. After his career outing against UConn, K.D. Johnson moved right, unable to leave a second. After two steals, a 3-pointer and an assist, in the first half, resulting in a 3rd and a squat at the last minute. Devan Cambridge added seven, and almost all of that.
The team is about 11 o'clock, said Pearl. Then it will make us a good team, but then again, it's to be a great team.
The size of the perimeter was adjusted to accommodate the location.
New York had the worst start ever, but after a hot start, Auburn started to try again.
After the Ramblers had just one shot from 3-point range, Loyola Chicago just one of five was from beyond the arc in the second half. In all, the Ramblers came into the final 14 shots.
We play pretty aggressively, and I think they were just tired. What a bad idea, I think we just became frustrated with them.
Tom Green is an ESPN reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter.