Auburn 78, Nicholls 57

Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi had five blocks apiece as Auburn

swatted a program-record 17 shots in a 78-57 win over Nicholls

State on Friday night.

With Chubb and Kouassi, both 6-foot-10, leading the way, the

Tigers used size to their advantage against the Colonels (1-5), who

don’t have a player taller than 6-7. Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel, who is

6-foot-8, added four blocks.

The Tigers tied Kentucky – which blocked 17 shots against

Morehead State in 1998 – for second on the Southeastern

Conference’s all-time, single-game list and came up one short of

the record set by Arkansas against Missouri in 1996.

Auburn had recorded 15 blocks twice before, against Jacksonville

State in 1998 and against Miami in the 2001 NIT.

Varez Ward set a career high with 20 points, tied his career

high with eight rebounds and had five assists.

Frankie Sullivan scored 13 for the Tigers, Allen Payne scored

11, and Chris Denson and Josh Wallace each added 10 off the

bench.

Chris Talkington scored 20 for the Colonels, Trevon Lewis added

15 points and 12 rebounds and Shane Rillieux scored 12.

The teams played even for the first 22 minutes of the game, but

Auburn found its touch from long range early in the second half,

going on a 14-0 run thanks to 3-pointers from Payne, Sullivan and

Ward. That extended the Tigers’ lead to 57-39 with 14:04 left in

the game.

Ward hit two free throws to put Auburn up 70-46 – the Tigers’

biggest lead of the game – with 7:30 to go.

The Colonels never got closer than 17 the rest of the way.

Auburn turned up the defensive pressure early in the game,

forcing Nicholls State into five turnovers in the first three

minutes and building a 10-1 lead on an array of breakaway layups

and a Payne dunk with 16:41 to go in the first half.

After a Talkington 3-pointer cut the Tigers’ lead to 16-11, a

Gabriel putback slam sparked a 10-2 Auburn run in 1:58 to build a

26-13 advantage with 10:06 to go in the half.

The Colonels responded with a 19-7 run of their own, with a

Rillieux steal and breakaway layup bringing them within a point at

33-32 with 1:43 left in the half.

The Tigers went into the half up 39-33, forcing 11 turnovers –

including nine steals – in the first 20 minutes and outscoring the

Colonels 30-10 in the paint. However, Auburn shot poorly from

3-point range, hitting only 1 of 14.

Ward led the Tigers with 10 points in the first half, and Payne

and Denson scored six points each.