Here we go. After Auburn defeated Mississippi State 80-68 in Starkville to begin SEC play with a win, much of the country decided to actually pay attention. It took the Tigers quite some time to get into the top ten in the rankings, and now they’re a level higher.
POLL ALERT: Baylor climbs to No. 4, Auburn into top five as Gonzaga keeps top spot in AP Top 25 poll.— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) January 6, 2020
Full poll: https://t.co/xXlGQKLkGZ
More college basketball coverage: https://t.co/N0HLv6oHbR pic.twitter.com/VpoxS1Z8Wq
Auburn is now officially a top five team.
Auburn basketball is No. 5 in the latest AP poll. This is the highest the Tigers have been ranked since 2000.— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) January 6, 2020
It’s nearly-uncharted water. Bruce Pearl has won two straight SEC Championships, and he’s coming off of a Final Four. Auburn has lost just one game since late February, and that came controversially to the eventual national champs by a point. Now, the Tigers took a 12-point win on the road in the league to open conference play. It could have been much bigger, and Auburn won again in a way that we’re completely unfamiliar with.
It’s fair to say that the Tigers haven’t played their best game yet. 13-0, ranked 5th in the country, and they haven’t played their best game yet. Auburn hit 5-22 threes — NONE in the first half — and still held a lead of almost 20 points in the second half. Winning by 12 over the 53rd team in the KenPom rankings is no small feat. People have poo-pooed Auburn’s “weak” schedule so far, but that same schedule contains 7 top-100 teams in KenPom’s list.
Sorry that we haven’t seen Auburn play Evansville... and lose... at home.
Or that the Tigers didn’t play powers such as Stephen F. Austin... only to lose... at home.
Auburn has won 25 of the last 26 games. They’ve only lost two games at home since the beginning of last year. We get a week at home with Vanderbilt on Wednesday night and Georgia on Saturday, but next week will get tough. If we’re 15-0 heading to Tuscaloosa, then that sad excuse for an arena may actually be filled up for once. Make it through that, and Gainesville stands next. Get through that stretch unscathed and you don’t pick the Tigers to lose until they actually lose.
It’s been quite some time since Auburn has been in this position.
Auburn's streak of 381 polls without an appearance in the Top 5 was the 53rd longest drought in the country.— joshdub (@joshdub_) January 6, 2020
Enjoy this for now. There’s still work to do. War Eagle.