Last night, Vanderbilt shot 52.8% from the floor, 10-19 from three (52.6%), 15-19 from the foul line, and had their best player explode for 30 points.
And they still lost by twelve points.
What was as large as a 22-point lead in the first half, and as much as 20 in the second half did dwindle down to just nine in the final few minutes, but Auburn’s hot shooting night was too much as the 11th-ranked Tigers won again and set up a virtual three-game lead in the SEC standings. Auburn’s 9-1, Tennessee’s 7-3 (but Auburn holds the tiebreaker), and everyone else is 6-4 or worse. There are six teams tied for 8th place at 4-6 in the league.
The three-ball was the story all night long, as Auburn got long balls from four different players in the opening several minutes and quickly built a double-digit lead, but the Tigers got to the rim in many different ways.
Explosive one-on-one drives.
Bryce Brown with the steal and hammer pic.twitter.com/yNZmhWfG7x— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 4, 2018
And of course, from our floor general’s distributive instinct. Jared Harper had 14 assists last night to match his 14 points, and tossed the ball all over the place, leading to score after score.
Mustapha with a tomahawk after a sweet back door from Harper pic.twitter.com/Jf9GEBAygR— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 4, 2018
Jared Harper to Mustapha Heron pic.twitter.com/eSkHFUmhwW— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 4, 2018
In the last two home games, Auburn’s scored 95 and 93 points, and made a combined 31 three-pointers. which bodes well since we’ll have maybe the toughest opponent the Tigers have played coming in on Wednesday in Texas A&M.
Vanderbilt made it tough, but they’ve played most teams tough this year, and just haven’t come up with the wins. Either way, it’s good that Auburn didn’t fall to the last team in the standings at this moment.
Postgame on the SEC Network, Bruce Pearl likened the SEC schedule to a round of golf (you know, 18 games, 18 holes), and said that we haven’t really had any bogeys yet, but that each hole’s getting tougher and tougher. Listen to his and Jared Harper’s comments from the Auburn Sports Network postgame show as well.
And I really don’t want to have to think about this kind of stuff since A&M finally looks like they’ve got their act together, but Auburn will continue to rise in the polls and bracketology projections. With #4 Duke, #7 Kansas, and #9 Arizona losing yesterday, Auburn will be a top ten team tomorrow. They may be as high as #7 or #8, which would be incredible.
Hey Auburn fans...With the victory, @USATODAY bracket expert Shelby Mast (@BracketWAG) confirmed to me tonight that with a this win, Auburn (21-2) will become the final No. 1 seed in his next projected NCAA Tournament field to be published Sunday morning. https://t.co/wk5AvDawi3— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) February 4, 2018
It’s all moving so fast!! War Eagle!