It’s time to start making your winter plans!
While this year’s team has the makings of being one of the most talented teams Auburn has ever assembled, there’s a ton of competition in the SEC this season as the league from top to bottom has drastically improved this offseason.
The SEC (finally) released the conference schedule yesterday for the 2021-2022 season.
In SEC play, the Tigers will play:
Home & Away: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina
Home Only: Kentucky, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Away Only: Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee
Game times and TV Networks will be released at a later date.
LSU - Wednesday December 29th
Well this will be quite the SEC opener for Auburn welcoming Will Wade and the Bayou Bengals to the Plains. LSU lost several key pieces from last year’s team that made it to the Round of 32 including the leading scorer in the SEC, Cam Thomas, Trendon Watford and Javonte Smart. Those 3 guys combined to average 55 PPG last season.
LSU welcomes Xavier Pinson from Missouri along with Adam Miller from Illinois to form a new backcourt in Baton Rouge. Darius Days is back for his senior season and is the team’s leading returning scorer at 11.5 PPG. LSU also adds 5-star center 6-11 Efton Reid out of IMG Academy.
at South Carolina - Tuesday January 4th
Auburn hung 109 on South Carolina in Columbia last season in one of the Tigers best performances of the season as they picked up their first win at South Carolina in the Bruce Pearl era.
It was a tough season in Columbia for the Gamecocks as they had two stoppages of play during COVID last season and could never get on track. 2 of their top 3 scorers return in Keyshawn Bryant and Jermaine Cousinard and like most teams in the league, have added several players from the transfer portal, most notably guard Chico Carter Jr. who came home after playing his first 2 years at Murray State.
Florida - Saturday January 8th
What an awesome slate of home games Auburn will have on Saturdays during the month of January. The first one is the first of two games against the Gators.
Florida is a mixed bag as it’s hard to know what to expect from Mike White’s group, although White got a contract extension this offseason (interesting). They made it to the Round of 32 last season before falling to the tournament darlings, Oral Roberts.
Colin Castleton returns after deciding against entering the NBA Draft. Tyree Appleby also returns to give Florida 2 returning scorers who averaged double-digits last year. Florida added guards Myreon Jones (Penn State), 2021 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year Brandon McKissic (Missouri-Kansas City) and forward CJ Felder (Boston College) in the transfer portal this offseason as well.
With the exception of the magical 2018-2019 season, Auburn has struggled mightily with the Gators and this game should be a great barometer of what to expect from Auburn in SEC play.
at Alabama - Tuesday January 11th
Like it or not, Nate Oats is building one heckuva program in Tuscaloosa. Alabama was the class of the SEC last season and while they lost several players from last year’s Sweet 16 team, the Tide will be in contention to repeat their 2020-2021 performance. Gone are John Petty, Herb Jones, Josh Primo and Alex Reese but the Crimson Tide return Jaden Shackelford, after he spent some time in the transfer portal, Jahvon Quinerly, and they’ll have freshmen PG J.D Davison who Auburn heavily recruited before he decided to head to Tuscaloosa. The Tide were also active in the transfer portal adding Noah Gurley, a forward from Furman who had success in his previous visit to Auburn Arena back in December 2019. They also added Nimari Burnett from Texas Tech but he tore his ACL last weekend and unfortunately his season is over before it started. Even still, the Tide will be one of the top teams in the SEC again this year.
at Ole Miss - Saturday January 15th
I haven’t seen a ton of hype about Ole Miss this season but they could find themselves into the NCAA Tournament this season. Devontae Shuler has departed along with KJ Buffen but they add the program’s 1st McDonalds All-American who was briefly committed to Auburn at one point.
Daeshun Ruffin elected to stay in his home state and should bring exemplary Point Guard play to Oxford. They also add Duke transfer Jaemyn Brakefield after one year in Durham who also seriously considered Auburn in his initial commitment. Another transfer from the ACC, 7-footer Nysier Brooks comes from Miami for his final year of eligibility. Another Georgia transfer joined a SEC school as the Rebels added Tye Fagan to their backcourt. Ole Miss also gets Jarkel Joiner back as well. This team will likely be picked mid-pack but they’ve got some solid pieces and we know how good of a coach Kermit Davis is.
Georgia - Wednesday January 19th
After 3 of 4 games on the road, Auburn comes home to host the team that is widely predicted to finish at the bottom of the SEC this season. Georgia lost 3 players in the transfer portal to other SEC schools and 8 guys altogether leave the school via the transfer portal. 1 of those 3 players in the SEC of course is KD Johnson who averaged 13.5 PPG in his only season in Athens before heading to the Plains. Sahvir Wheeler is now at Kentucky and Tye Fagan at Ole Miss.
PJ Horne is the returning leading scorer at 8.5 PPG and Georgia added several players from the transfer portal including Gonzaga’s Aaron Cook and Virginia’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim, both guys who should have a much bigger role for the Dawgs this season.
Kentucky - Saturday January 22nd
Auburn will host Kentucky for a 5th straight season and 4th straight year it’s a Saturday home game. And there are no excuses in Lexington this season.
Surely for the Cats, last season was a major fluke. The Cats can’t be that bad two years in a row, right? They shouldn’t be as Coach Cal has brought in several veterans that fit his style. Former Georgia teammates will face off as KD Johnson will face Sahvir Wheeler who left Athens for bluer pastures.
One of Kentucky’s biggest issues last season was 3-point shooting. It shouldn’t be this year. Kellan Grady was an excellent 3-point shooter at Davidson, the same can be said for CJ Fredrick who shot 47.4% for Iowa last season. With Olivier Sarr and Isaiah Jackson departing, Kentucky made an early splash in the portal landing West Virginia big man Oscar Tshiebwe to help replace that duo. Keion Brooks, Davion Mintz, Jacob Toppin and Dontaie Allen are all back this season as well.
TyTy Washington, a guy Auburn really wanted but chose Kentucky after de-committing from Creighton this spring. Daimion Collins and and Bryce Hopkins are the other members of Kentucky’s freshmen group this season.
Right now, I would pick this Kentucky team to win the SEC but as deep as this league will be this year, this could very easily be a terrible pick on my part.
at Missouri - Tuesday January 25th
One of Auburn’s biggest wins last season came over a ranked Missouri team in Auburn Arena. This year’s Missouri team will look much different. After a strong start, Missouri slowed down later in the season and were one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament. Gone ix Xavier Pinson both Dru Smith and Mark Smith and several others and what’s left is a lot of unknowns for Cuonzo Martin’s group.
Oklahoma - Saturday January 29th (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)
May as well include a future SEC opponent in this article as its part of Auburn’s schedule this season.
This will be the first time the Sooners have come to Auburn in program history. The teams last played in 2017 when the Tigers beat them on a neutral floor in Connecticut, the year after Oklahoma made it to the Final Four.
Porter Moser takes over for a retired Lon Kruger and looks to bring the same magic from Loyola-Chicago to a program that always seems to put a good product on the floor. It will also be a matchup of the 2 schools that have featured freshmen PGs that averaged 20 PPG and 8 APG and are now both Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young and Sharife Cooper.
(And perhaps a Trae Young appearance at Auburn Arena as the Hawks are off that day and in the midst of a long homestand).
Alabama - Tuesday February 1st
Well both Auburn/Alabama games will be Tuesday games this season. Alabama got the best of Auburn in Auburn Arena in Sharife Cooper’s debut and the Tigers will be looking to avenge last season’s sweep by the Crimson Tide.
at Georgia - Saturday February 5th
The Return of KD Johnson to Athens.
Unless Georgia surprises us all, I think this could very well be Tom Crean’s final season in Athens. It appears the fanbase has turned on him quite a bit and despite producing a #1 pick two seasons ago, the Bulldogs continue to fall further and further behind in the league (while Auburn continues to bring in more and more kids from Georgia).
at Arkansas - Tuesday February 8th
We talked about what Nate Oats is doing in Tuscaloosa up above but speaking of coaches who have built a great program in a short amount of time, Eric Musselman has done that in Fayetteville. Arkansas got all the way to the Elite 8 last season before falling by 9 to the eventual National Champion, Baylor.
Moses Moody is off to the NBA after 1 season but Devo Davis, Jaylin Williams, JD Notae and another group of transfers that Musselman loves to bring in will be.
Among those transfers include a pair of former ACC players in Miami’s Chris Lykes who played just 2 games last year due to injury but was among the Top 10 scorers in the ACC the prior 2 seasons. Au’diese Toney, a native of Huntsville, comes to Arkansas from Pittsburgh. He averaged 14.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG last season for Jeff Capel and the Panthers.
The Tigers lost a tough one last season at Bud Walton Arena and this year certainly won’t be easy. This will be one of Auburn’s toughest road contests on the schedule.
Texas A&M - Saturday February 12th
The series between these two programs in both football and basketball is one of the most bizarre things to me, and I’d truthfully rather just play this game in College Station. The Aggies seemingly have the Tigers number in Auburn Arena as they handed Auburn their only home loss in both during the 2018 and 2020 seasons. Perhaps This is the Year?
The Aggies added Henry Coleman from Duke, Jalen Johnson from Mississippi State and Tyrece Radford from Virginia Tech out of the transfer portal.
Vanderbilt - Wednesday February 16th
No trip to Memorial Gym this season (which stinks for this Nashville-based writer) but the Tigers have won 4 in a row against the Dores after going seemingly forever without beating them.
Jerry Stackhouse should have a much improved team in Year 3 led by Scotty Pippen Jr. who elected to return to the Music City for at least another year. Pippen was one of the last guys to withdraw from the NBA Draft and it’s his team now. Dylan Disu is gone and the frontcourt was made-over courtesy of the transfer portal. Liam Robbins comes over from Minnesota and Terren Frank from TCU to fill the void in the paint for Vandy.
at Florida - Saturday February 19th
1996. That’s the last time Auburn has won at the O’Dome in Gainesville. Bruce Pearl loves to talk about making history and since Auburn doesn’t go to Lexington this year, this will be the place where Auburn looks to break its longest drought against a SEC foe in their home building this season.
Ole Miss - Wednesday February 23rd
Over the last 5 seasons, Ole Miss and Auburn have alternated sweeping each other in the regular season. Last year, Ole Miss swept Auburn so naturally its Auburn’s turn to return the favor to keep this trend going.
at Tennessee - Saturday February 26th
There will be a lot of eyes on this one this season for multiple reasons. It will be Auburn’s first look at Justin Powell in a Tennessee uniform and another return to Rocky Top for BP.
The Vols will have high expectations once again this season as John Fulkerson comes back for one more run, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah Jordan-James, and Victor Bailey all return this season. But it’s 2 freshmen that should be worth keeping an eye on as well.
Top 20 prospects Guard Kennedy Chandler and Forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield join the program this season. Chandler helped the USA Basketball U19 Team win gold this summer and Huntley-Hatfield was a top 5 prospect in 2022 before reclassifying to 2021.
It’s a shame these two teams will play just once this year, in Knoxville. Auburn has won 6 straight against Tennessee including the last 2 in Knoxville.
One final note: one change I want to see to Auburn’s SEC Schedule when Oklahoma and Texas arrive is I want to see Auburn play their biggest rival twice a season.
at Mississippi State - Wednesday March 2nd
This Mississippi State team should be a much improved group over the team the Tigers faced in the season finale last season. Ben Howland brought in former North Carolina Tar Heel and Auburn High School’s Garrison Brooks for his final collegiate season. He also added Michigan State’s Rocket Watts. This team will likely be picked in the 7-10 range but if these Bulldogs are able to gel, this could be one of the sleeper teams in the league next season.
South Carolina - Saturday March 5th
The last time Auburn hosted South Carolina on the final day of the regular season? Well this happened...
Hopefully we will be able to see a packed Auburn Arena once again this season as Auburn like every other program last season wasn’t able to enjoy the homecourt advantage they are accustomed to. I know people love going to games in Auburn (I do especially), but one of the things Coach Pearl has talked about this offseason is he hopes to see more Auburn fans at road games in the future. That is my goal this season is to attend as many road games as humanly possible and to be fair, I would imagine you may have a better chance to see this group of Tigers on the road versus trying to get a ticket into Auburn Arena.
The basketball schedule is all set and with a revamped roster and a schedule, now we can really begin the countdown to basketball season! It’s only 60 days away! War Eagle!