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Murray, McLemore lead Auburn past Gardner-Webb, 80-55

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Anfernee McLemore's forte is blocking shots, not hitting 3-pointers. This time he did both.

Desean Murray scored a season-high 20 points and McLemore finished with 17, mostly on rare 3s, to lead Auburn to an 80-55 victory over Gardner-Webb on Wednesday night.

McLemore also had 11 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Tigers (7-1), who have won five consecutive games for just the second time under coach Bruce Pearl. McLemore made all four of his 3-point attempts — after hitting just 1 of 8 attempts through the first seven games.

"He's not made four in practice in a row, but he's capable of it," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "We talked about the fact that that was a weapon we were going to work on."

It certainly was effective in this game, which was one-sided from the outset.

Murray, who played against Gardner-Webb while at the Big South Conference's Presbyterian College, was 8-of-12 shooting and had seven rebounds. He had made just a pair of 3s coming into the game and was 3 of 4 against Gardner-Webb (3-7).

McLemore had eight points in the first five minutes, including back-to-back 3-pointers.

The SEC's top shot blocker punctuated the performance with an alley-oop from Jared Harper.

"In shoot around, I felt real good. I felt like my shot was on," McLemore said. "So I decided to launch a couple up and they went in, so I just kept shooting."

It was his second career double-double, both coming in the last three games.

David Efianayi led Gardner-Webb with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Jaheam Cornwall scored 11.

Auburn jumped to a big lead early and kept expanding it even when Mustapha Heron left in the first half with a lower back injury. He had five points in nine minutes.

"His back just spasmed up on him," Pearl said. "To win the game without him like that says something, too. I was concerned."

The Tigers outrebounded the Runnin' Bulldogs 52-30 and collected 23 offensive boards.

Harper had 10 of Auburn's 19 assists.

"They have two post players that really hadn't made shots coming into the game with Murray and McLemore," Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft said. "Credit those guys, 7 of 8 from 3. We weren't expecting to have to deal with that."


Gardner-Webb: Couldn't match Auburn's size and athleticism. Made just 20 of 56 shots (35.7 percent). Was 6-of-22 from 3-point range (27.3 percent).

Auburn: Has started 7-1 for just the fourth time since 2000 and first since 2011. Built a 17-point lead over the first six minutes, starting 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Led 42-28 at halftime after making 9 of 18 3s. Awarded a scholarship to senior guard Patrick Keim before the game.

QUOTABLE: "That's the best defensive effort from start to finish I think we've had in a long time. We jumped on them early and stayed on them." Pearl.

CRAFT'S RETURN: Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft was an assistant coach at Auburn from 2008-10. This was the team's second meeting and first since 2005.


Gardner-Webb: Visits another major conference team, Maryland, on Saturday.

Auburn: Hosts in-state team UAB on Saturday to conclude its season-long three-game home stand.

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