March 29, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - Auburn senior forward Kenny Gabriel finished as the runner-up in the slam dunk portion of the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on Thursday in Tulane's Fogelman Arena on ESPN prior to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Martin Methodist's James Justice, a 5-foot-10 guard with a 52-inch vertical jump, edged out Gabriel in the final round with a bounce through the legs one-handed left-handed slam.
Gabriel's final dunk was a high bounce and one-handed slam after his best dunk of the night, a 360 slam dunk off a through the legs pass off the backboard from Missouri's Marcus Denmon.
"It has been real fun and was a great atmosphere," said Gabriel. "It feels great compete and represent Auburn in this way. I was just trying to be creative and get the crowd involved in it. It made me feel good with all of the Auburn fans here. War Eagle baby."
Gabriel advanced to the semifinals with a perfect score of 40 as half the eight-man field was cut after first round. Gabriel's one-handed windmill slam on a pass off the backboard from Denmon brought a standing ovation from the sold out crowd of 3,300 and chants of "KG" from the PA announcer.
In the semifinals, Gabriel used ESPN announcer Jimmy Dykes' alley-oop pass for a slam dunk over the Denny's advertisement on the court in the three second lane. The judges awarded Gabriel a 35 amid a lot of "War Eagle" from Auburn fans in attendance, including Auburn coach Tony Barbee and his coaching staff and their families.
Gabriel averaged 12.2 points per game this season for the Tigers along with 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as he was named Auburn's MVP. He ranks second in the SEC in blocks and eighth in rebounding.
The ESPN broadcast team included Brad Nessler, Dan Dakich, Jimmy Dykes and Shannon Spake. The program will re-air numerous times on ESPN networks.