Gabriel's Big Play Blocks Ole Miss Comeback

Senior forward Kenny Gabriel talks about Auburn's SEC basketball victory over Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.-- Kenny Gabriel's last block was his biggest.

With six seconds left in the second overtime period, the senior forward elevated and got a piece of Ole Miss guard Jarvis Summers' potential game-winning shot, preserving Auburn's lead for a 69–68 basketball victory over the Rebels and the Tigers‘ first conference win.

"I was trying to grab it with two hands, but the ball slipped out of my hands," Gabriel said.

The Charlotte, N.C., native finished with four blocks on the afternoon to go with his 11-point, 13-rebound effort.

Gabriel's rebounding, especially on the defensive end of the floor where he snagged 10, was crucial in limiting second-chance opportunities for the Rebels, who had 23 offensive rebounds for the game.

"They were missing a lot of shots and just going back and rebounding," Gabriel said. "That's what coach has been saying for the past two days that they really don't shoot the ball too well, but they just go for the offensive rebound, and that's what they did."

Despite Ole Miss grabbing 10 more boards than Auburn for the game, Gabriel said the Tigers, who had a nine-point lead with four minutes left in regulation, should have done more to put the game away.

"Even though we lost the rebounding, we felt like the game still should have been won in regulation," he said.

Gabriel only hit on four of his 12 shots from the field, but nailed three of his six three-point shots, none bigger than the trey he hit that gave the Tigers' a 65–63 lead with 1:35 left in the first overtime.

He said he works on his shooting as hard as he can in practice and on his own so that he'll be ready to provide a clutch basket when called upon.

On the court for all but two of the game's 50 minutes, Gabriel was the equivalent of a marathon runner for the Tigers, an experience he said was the first of his playing career.

"I'm exhausted," he said. "Being that we had the game on Wednesday and then Saturday, it was tiring, but we just have to do what we had to win."

Gabriel and the Tigers will get their chance for a second conference win when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday to face LSU. Until then, the Tigers can build on the lessons learned from their hard-fought win over the Rebels.

"It gives us more confidence that we can just play," Gabriel said of his team winning a close game vs. the Rebels. "As long as we just go out there and play as hard as we can every single possession that we're out there on the court, I think we can play with anybody in the country. We just have to keep playing this hard and when we have our hands on the rope just keep pulling, keep pulling."

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