AUBURN — Derrian Gobourne has done it again. The fifth-year senior has earned another weekly accolade, being named SEC Specialist of the Week after scoring a 9.9 on vault and a pair of 9.95s on floor and bars during the Tigers' win over Georgia last week. 

“Derrian, she's brought that since she got here. You know, she's a national champion freshman year and really hasn't slowed down. So it's great to have her back. It's great to be able to, you know, sort of send her off the right way,” said Auburn head coach Jeff Graba. “All these accolades are a good thing. You know, for a fifth-year senior, sometimes that isn't their best year, but for her, she's really squeezing all the juice out of the lemon.”

Those accolades include two SEC Freshman of the Week awards, now six SEC Specialist of the Week awards, being a five-time All-American selection, a four-time All-SEC selection, a two-time SEC Co-Specialist of the Year, a national champion on vault during her freshman year and a runner-up on vault and bars last season. She was also a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2019. 

Auburn will need more of Gobourne’s magic on Friday night when the No. 9 Tigers travel to Lexington to take on No. 12 Kentucky. Auburn is looking for a score higher than the 197.2 against Florida to raise its NQS, but they will be aiming for that without the presence of Suni Lee on the floor. 

“We were never really going to put her in on floor this Friday, anyways. That was a slated rest time. What we don't know is what she's actually going to do,” Graba said. “I think eventually the goal is to get her back in the all-around by senior night and pushing through the final part of the season.”

Lee changed her floor routine ahead of last week’s meet with Georgia, and she struggled to connect her first pass, faltering on the landing and resulting in a dropped 9.725. While the Tigers will miss Lee in the event, the team still scored a strong 49.450 last week. 

Auburn will also look for another fast start, and with only two road meets left, they will have to make it count. After serious issues on vault and bars against Missouri, both resulting in season-low scores, Auburn kicked things off last week with the second-highest vault score of the year, a 49.450.

Sara Hubbard was one of Auburn’s top scorers in the event, notching a 9.9.

“We've been having slower starts to meet. So I think it was important that we got out there and started right away on vault,” Hubbard said of the score. “To be able to finally put it together. I mean, that was really important to all of us because we've been knowing that we're capable of it, so to finally put it together during a meet was really special.”

Graba and his team want a good road score and to build off of last week’s meet, but the focus remains on the postseason and on being healthy when the Tigers truly need to be. And that is why Lee is getting rest this week, as the lessons from last season’s run continue to have an impact. 

“The performance matters and the health of the athletes matters. So we've got to do a really good job of having a great performance. Hopefully, the score will take care of itself,” Graba said. “And we have to come back with some gas in the tank because we've got a pretty strong run here at the end.”

Auburn and Kentucky will face off Saturday at 11 a.m., with the broadcast on SEC Network+.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The time of the meet has been changed to 11 a.m. Saturday due to severe weather in the Lexington area.

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