SEC ready: No. 11 Auburn opens league play at Ole Miss
SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS
A year ago, Auburn finished up the non-conference slate at 12-1 before kicking off SEC play on the road at Tennessee. The Tigers weren’t ranked yet. Nobody really knew how good they were, and very few would have predicted them to win the conference.
This year? Auburn went 11-2 in its non-conference games and will once again open league play on the road against a better-than-advertised Ole Miss team on Wednesday.
“I look at this as a big opportunity,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I honestly look at this like the Tennessee game a year ago. Where was Tennessee a year ago? About in the same spot Ole Miss is. They might’ve been a little higher ranked because they had a couple more marquee non-conference wins. But they were picked 13th. That’s where Ole Miss is picked. And then they evolved. I kind of look at them very similarly.”
This is a different Auburn team, though. For starters, this team is ranked No. 11 nationally whereas the Tigers weren’t ranked heading into the SEC opener last year. There’s also different personnel with the additions of Austin Wiley, Samir Doughty, J’Von McCormick and Daniel Purifoy.
And yet, ranking aside, there’s still this sense that people are sleeping on the Tigers.
“Nobody nationally is talking about us,” Pearl said. “We haven’t given them anything to really talk about us, but they’re not. They probably have some expectation. If we win, they’ll say we’re supposed to win. If we don’t, then it’s same old situation at Auburn. We’re trying to change that perspective, but we’ve got to do that by winning and by playing well.”
“Last year, we felt like we were slept on,” added point guard Jared Harper. “I still feel like we’re being slept on as individual players and as a team, so we’re kind of using that as our fire going into SEC play.”
Wednesday’s game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. CT from The Pavilion in Oxford. Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM, online at AuburnTigers.com and on the TuneIn app. The game will also be televised on ESPN2 with Karl Ravech and Seth Greenberg on the call.