By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. -- When Anfernee McLemore sent an opposing shot into the second row of the stands two minutes into Wednesday's game, it set the tone for the rest of the night. Auburn jumped out to a 21-4 lead in the first five minutes and went on to rout Gardner-Webb, 80-55, to improve to 7-1 for the first time since 2011.
"The defensive effort was really outstanding," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said after the game. "Gardner-Webb is a good offensive team, and if you allow them to run their stuff, they'll score. That's the best defensive effort from start to finish that I think we've had in a long time."
Here are three takeaways from the Auburn victory.
1. McLemore & Murray
In just his second start of the season, McLemore continues to play at a high level. The sophomore forward filled out the stat sheet Wednesday night with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. It was his second double-double of the season and a new career-high in blocks. He currently leads the SEC with 30 blocks in eight games.
The 6-foot-7 shot blocker also found his range against Gardner-Webb, making all four of this three-point attempts.
"I was just feeling good," McLemore said. "I felt really good in shoot-around. I felt like my shot was on, so I decided to launch a couple of them. They went in, so I just kept shooting."
Not to be outdone, teammate Desean Murray finished with a pretty impressive stat line of his own. The junior forward scored a season-high 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting and also finished with seven rebounds and four steals. He's now scored in double figures in six of Auburn's eight games this season.
2. Dominating the glass
It was yet another impressive rebounding effort from Auburn on Wednesday. The Tigers outrebounded Gardner-Webb, 52-30, and pulled down 23 offensive rebounds that led to a season-best 21 second-chance points. The 52 rebounds were the most by an Auburn team since the Tigers had 56 against Florida A&M in 2014.
McLemore and Murray led the way, combining for 18 rebounds, but four other players finished with five boards on the night.
Auburn, which has a +11.8 rebounding margin per game this season, has now outrebounded all eight of its opponents this season. That only happened 10 times all of last season.
3. Saving the best for last
The best moment of the night wasn't one of McLemore's blocks or one of Malik Dunbar's high-flying dunks. It was after the game in the locker room where Pearl awarded walk-on Patrick Keim a scholarship Keim is the only senior on the team.
"I asked the players prior to making the announcement, `What are some of the characteristics of this team,'" Pearl said. "`What is the personality of this team?' We talked about some issues as far as character and loving one another and forgiving one another, handling adversity and a lot of different things that we have been through.
"There is not a player in this locker room that embodies those characteristics more than Pat Keim."
-- Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) December 7, 2017
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: