Gabriel leads Auburn to exhibition win

AUBURN - Kenny Gabriel had 15 points and 16 rebounds to lead Auburn to a 79-66 exhibition win over West Alabama Wednesday night at the Auburn Arena.

Kenny Gabriel/Todd Van Emst photo

“Whenever I see a ball out there on the rim, I just got to go get it,” Gabriel said. “I know that’s what my team needs from me.”

Gabriel, who shot 6-of-11 from the floor and had two steals and four blocks, was one of five Auburn players in double-figure scoring.

“I thought Kenny was huge. I thought he was really big,” Barbee said. “...Kenny did his job on the backboard with 16 huge rebounds and the three offensive rebounds. I thought offensively, he did some good things but I thought he got a little tired out there at times.

“He’s lost some weight from the start of preseason practice so we’ve got to get him back where he’s feeling strong because this is the type of performance we need from him every night.”

West Alabama kept the game close for most of the second half including a 48-47 lead at the 14:26 mark but Auburn made an 11-0 run in the final five minutes to pull away.

Auburn shot 43.9 percent from the field but made just 2-of-13 from 3-point range. Auburn outrebounded West Alabama 47-45.

“It’s always good to get the guys out in that first exhibition game so they can kind of take out that frustration on somebody else,” Barbee said. “Overall, I liked what I saw.

“What I really wanted to get out of this exhibition game ... was how hard we play and how hard we compete. That’s the foundation for what we have to be ... our identity.”

Andre Malone had 13, Earnest Ross 12, and Rob Chubb and Josh Wallace 10 points apiece for Auburn. Wallace added nine assists.

True freshman forward Josh Langford, one of Auburn’s top 2010 signees, didn’t play Wednesday due to a bruised chest.

“He could have played tonight. It was just a precautionary thing,” Barbee said. “He’s been doing great in practice and I expect him to be back at practice when we come back from our day off.”

Auburn jumped out to an early 22-10 lead in the first half before a 15-1 run by West Alabama gave the visiting Tigers their first lead of the game at 25-23. Auburn closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a 40-31 lead at the break.

West Alabama was led by Marino Thompson and Trevell Coleman with 14 points apiece. Thompson added a team-high 12 rebounds.

Auburn played its first exhibition game in the new Auburn Arena in front of an estimated 2,500 fans.

“It was loud without the whole arena being full,” Gabriel said. “Just the student section, it was loud. Just imagine when it will be a sold out crowd. It will be a big advantage for us.”

Auburn will continue exhibition play Monday against Columbus State at the Auburn Arena. The first regular season game will be at home Friday, Nov. 12 against UNC-Asheville.

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