Suni Lee logs a 9.95 on bars as Auburn gymnastics tops NC State in Neville Arena

AUBURN — Suni Lee didn't participate in the all-around for the first time this season, not performing a floor routine against N.C. State on Friday, but she scored a 9.95 on bars to help push No. 5 Auburn gymnastics past the No. 20-ranked Wolfpack, 197.175-196.125.

The home crowd at Neville Arena buzzed as Lee swung between the bars and celebrated upon her dismount and return to the floor. Her score was a tenth of a point better than any of the other gymnasts competing in the event, as teammates Cassie Stevens and Sophia Groth picked up a couple of 9.85s, along with N.C. State's Alexis Ortega.

"We're just trying to be smart with her," coach Jeff Graba said of Lee's absence on floor. "We got to the end of last year and our all-arounders were really tired. ... We have to stagger it.

"Both Cassie and Olivia Hollingsworth are holding up right now, but at some point we're going to have to do the same thing with them. So, we're just trying to gauge it. We don't want to have to pull out all our all-arounders off of an event at the same time. It had nothing else to do with (anything). Just more of a training plan long-term looking ahead."

PREVIOUS MEET:How Suni Lee of Auburn gymnastics got 9.975 on new floor routine she'd never practiced

OPENING THE SEASON:Suni Lee scores perfect 10 on beam in Auburn gymnastics' first meet of season

Stevens won the all-around with a 39.6 mark. She picked up a pair of 9.925s on floor and vault, with the latter event matching her season high. She also added a 9.9 on beam.

Two other Tigers participated in the all-around: Groth and Hollingsworth. The highlight of Groth's performance came on bars as she registered a season-high 9.85. Hollingsworth's highest mark was a 9.85 on beam.

Derrian Gobourne closed the meet with her floor routine, as is standard. The fans reacted as she placed an imaginary crown on her head and scored a season-high 9.975, putting an exclamation point on the win. One judge gave Gobourne a perfect 10, which elicited an animated reaction from the Auburn faithful, but the other judge disagreed by half a point, resulting in the 9.975.

"I just feel like we haven't really hit our stride yet," Stevens said. "We know there's so much more in the tank."

The Tigers go on the road for their next meet, traveling to Tuscaloosa for a matchup with No. 13 Alabama on Friday (6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network). They'll return home and welcome LSU to Neville Arena on Feb. 10.

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at rsilva@gannett.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Suni Lee logs a 9.95 on bars as Auburn gymnastics tops N.C. State