ATLANTA — Playing minus suspended coach Bruce Pearl, No. 18 Auburn made 16 steals and routed Nebraska 99-68 on Saturday.
Pearl began his two-game suspension imposed by the NCAA on Friday. Auburn was placed on probation for four years for unethical conduct involving former associate head coach Chuck Person. Pearl was penalized for failing to monitor his assistant and adequately promote compliance.
Assistant coach Wes Flanigan served as acting coach.
Center Walker Kessler and guard Zep Jasper each had five steals and Auburn scored 30 points off 20 turnovers. Jabari Smith had 21 points to lead the Tigers (8-1).
Auburn held Nebraska (5-6) without a basket for a stretch of almost seven minutes in the first half. The Tigers took control with a 13-0 run at the start of the Cornhuskers’ cold-shooting stretch.
Nebraska trailed by 21 points in the first half and again in the second half before cutting the deficit to 55-41 with a 7-0 run.
Auburn put the game away with a 14-0 burst that made it 76-47. The run included three 3-pointers by Wendell Green Jr., who scored 19 points.
Smith, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Fayetteville, Georgia, showed off his versatility by making three 3-pointers while also taking advantage of his height with two second-half jams.
Green had a steal before leading a fast break he capped by throwing the ball off the backboard to set up a crowd-pleasing jam by Smith.
C.J. Wilcher led Nebraska with 17 points. Bryce McGowans had 14.
Auburn led 12-9 before pulling away with a 13-0 run. Jaylin Williams sank a 3-point and added a three-point play during the stretch.
The matchup was the first of four games in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event at State Farm Arena.
Nebraska: Guards Keon Edwards and Sam Holberg did not travel after being held out of practice with a viral infection. Edwards is a part-time starter. Freshman Wilhelm Breidenbach, hurt his knee in Tuesday’s 102-67 loss to Michigan and also did not travel with the team.
Auburn: The Tigers showed impressive offense depth, with ample support for Smith and Green. Devan Cambridge scored 14 points. K.D. Johnson had 12 and Williams added 10.
Nebraska plays Kansas State on Dec. 19.
Auburn plays North Alabama on Tuesday night.