PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Freshman Jabari Smith had 14 points to help No. 19 Auburn regroup from a double-overtime loss and beat Loyola Chicago 62-53 in Thursday’s consolation round at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The Tigers (4-1) held the Ramblers to just two field goals over an 11-minute span in the second half, building a 10-point margin heading into the final minutes. Auburn also did a better job of contesting Loyola Chicago’s outside shooters in the second half in particular, with the Ramblers making just 1 of 10 3-pointers after the break.
Walker Kessler added 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers. The 7-foot transfer from North Carolina helped keep Auburn in control of the glass with a 36-26 rebounding advantage as well as his work protecting the rim.
Marquise Kennedy scored 13 points to lead the Ramblers (4-2), who shot 62% in the first half. But Loyola Chicago’s offense struggled to string together baskets to build some rhythm, and the outside-shooting struggles after halftime were magnified as Auburn began to increase its late margin.
Loyola Chicago shot just 8 for 26 (31%) after halftime.
Auburn: The Tigers were coming off a wild 115-109 loss to No. 22 UConn in Wednesday’s first round. They had to get ready less than 24 hours later for this one against a team that reached the NCAA Sweet 16 last year. But Auburn played from in front for the final 16 minutes and remained in control of the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Loyola Chicago: The Ramblers lost their first-round game to Michigan State on a last-second alley-oop dunk. They responded with a strong offensive first half that included going 6 for 13 from behind the arc. But they missed their first seven 3s and didn’t connect on one until Kennedy’s 3 with 2:49 left and his team down eight.
Auburn: The Tigers advanced to Friday’s fifth-place game to face the Arizona State-Syracuse winner.
Loyola Chicago: The Ramblers will play in Friday’s seventh-place game against the Arizona State-Syracuse loser.
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