With a decisive victory towards the Kentucky Wildcats, the perennial kings of the SEC, the Auburn Tigers have probably made college historical past (to not jinx them or something). At 18-1, this yr’s squad is positioned to succeed in the No. 1 seed for the primary time because the AP started rating groups within the late Forties. They’re sitting within the second spot proper now, behind Gonzaga, regardless of receiving extra first place votes than some other staff (36 to Gonzaga’s 25).
The rationale — all however two AP voters had the Tigers of their high 4 slots. All however seven had them within the high two. However one voter, Jesse Newell of the Kansas Metropolis Star, had them at No. 9, an outlying rating which put the Tigers 4 factors behind No. 1 Gonzaga. Newell advised al.com that his voting philosophy locations the “finest” groups in entrance of probably the most “deserving” groups. He felt Auburn fell into the latter class.
Newell was the goal of a lot outrage from diehard Auburn followers this week, because the voting info is publicly accessible on-line. They got here this shut to creating historical past final week — however maybe the delayed gratification will make the highest spot that a lot sweeter.
After the 80-71 win Saturday, there ought to be no official cause or excuse for them to not find yourself in that No. 1 slot this week. Their earlier excessive was in 1999 at No. 2 within the AP Ballot, once they received the SEC title, a feat they repeated underneath present head coach Bruce Pearl in 2018. Pearl’s Tigers reached this system’s first ever Remaining 4 in 2019, and with the best way issues are headed this season, they might even find yourself because the No. 1 total within the NCAA match this March.
The Tigers are undefeated within the SEC, and confronted an unlimited problem at this time in No. 12-ranked Kentucky, who’re recognized for dominating the convention, although Auburn has received six of the previous 11 conferences between the faculties. Undoubtedly the largest sport of Auburn’s common season, the world offered out and college students had been tenting outdoors the evening earlier than to get good seats. They obtained some pizza delivered to them by the staff whereas ready in what passes as chilly climate in Alabama.
After popping out of a 10-point gap within the first half, the Auburn Area got here alive for the Tigers’ fifteenth straight win this season after pulling away halfway via the second. At the same time as Kentucky pulled inside two scores a number of instances within the final 5 minutes of the sport, the Auburn squad by no means misplaced their composure and saved a strong lead, going 24-for-29 on free throws. The Tigers had been led by Walker Kessler’s 19 factors and Okay.D. Johnson’s 17. So except some AP voter decides to purposefully spoil the Tigers’ enjoyable once more, we’ll see historical past made this week for Auburn basketball.