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The Auburn basketball program was already feeling good on Saturday after Bruce Pearl agreed to a new contract with the school. But inside Auburn Arena, the Tigers made Oklahoma feel their wrath, as the No.1 team in the country rolled past the Sooners 86-68 for their 17th straight win, improving to 20-1 on the season.
Saturday was the first time in program history that Auburn played on its home court as the No.1 team in the country.
This team continues to find ways to cause havoc for opposing defenses, using a plethora of guards to sprint past the Sooners. Bruce Pearl lets his players get up the court with tempo, not giving the opposing team a chance to setup on defense, something Oklahoma figured out the hard way on Saturday.
But we can’t forget about how the Tigers shoot the ball inside the paint, led by Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith. The two combined for 44 points on Saturday, with a double-double from Smith, with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Kessler had 21 points and 9 rebounds.
This game turned into a great bounce back performance from Smith, who was just 2-15 shooting against Missouri on Tuesday, breaking a 16-game streak of scoring double-digit points.
The Sooners had it within 50-47 at the 12:24 mark of the second half, but the Tigers were quick to extend the lead again after a quick run. Just to show you how quick the momentum of the game can change for the Tigers, they were leading by 16 points only 3:23 later.
Auburn can beat you from behind the perimeter, but Pearl loves to see this team attack the basket, which they did on Saturday. The Sooners had trouble all afternoon defending the Tigers inside the arc, leading Auburn to finish with 38 points in the paint. K.D. Johnson had his moments as well, most importantly on defense, while the Tigers shot the ball 63 times, finishing the game shooting 46% from the field.
Pearl has this team playing with a high-level of confidence, with his team leading this game from start to finish. The 17th straight victory for Auburn is now tied for the second longest winning streak in program history. You have to go back to 1998 to find another team who has won this many games in a row.
So now, the Tigers have their coach locked up with a new contract and the team continues playing like a squad who will make a deep run in March.
I’d say things are pretty nice for Auburn Basketball at the moment.