The Auburn Tigers, led by freshman sensation Isaac Okoro, are undefeated at 15-0, but are facing a couple of difficult games against SEC foes such as Alabama and Florida that could end their streak.
For the first couple months of the college basketball season, the top ranking changed hands five different times before Gonzaga emerged as a bona fide #1 team by retaining the top spot for the past four weeks.
During that time, Auburn crept into the Top 10, and finally cracked the Top 5. Even though they’re one of two unbeaten teams in the country (along with San Diego State), Auburn hasn’t been considered among the Top 3 teams due to the weakness of their schedule. Auburn has yet to play a ranked team this season.
There’s a very good chance that Auburn will win their next five games to start the season 20-0 before they host a huge home game against #10 Kentucky on Feb. 1. The Auburn/Kentucky game will represent the first ranked team that Auburn faces this season. It also gives freshman Isaac Okoro a chance to prove his worth against future NBA All-Stars on a Kentucky squad stacked with one-and-done players.
Auburn’s Upcoming Games
@ Alabama (8-7)
@ Florida (11-5)
South Carolina (8-7)
Ranked or unranked, don’t discount how hard it is to win road games in the SEC. Even if Auburn knocks off Kentucky, their next matchup will be on the road at Arkansas. The Razorbacks are one of the best teams in the country that aren’t ranked in the AP Top 25. Of course, if they continue to win, they should finally crack the Top 25.
Tigers 15-0 Run, Okoro Rising
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has another high-octane offense at his disposal this season. Auburn is ranked #11 in the nation in scoring, averaging 82.1 points per game.
Samir Doughty, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, leads Auburn in scoring with 15.7 points per game. Doughty is averaging more than double what he contributed off the bench last season.
J’Von McCormick, a 6-foot-0 senior guard, can be streaky at times. He averages 11.6 points per game, but he could explode for 20-plus at any moment. He recently torched Mississippi State for 28 points.
The defense is anchored by 7-footer Austin Wiley, who averages nearly 2.0 blocks per game. The senior center almost averages a double-double with 10.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Freshman forward Isaac Okoro stands 6-foot-6 and is second on the team in scoring, with 13.2 points per game.
Auburn had a close shave against Vanderbilt last week, and only won 83-79. Okoro scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Tigers to victory.
“We hung in there, didn’t panic, and made enough plays to finish the job,” said coach Pearl.
Okoro also threw down a massive dunk against Vandy that the kids are still talking about on social media.
ISAAC OKORO TAKES FLIGHT pic.twitter.com/PtkphcUEDp
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) January 9, 2020
On Deck: Bama and Florida
When it comes to Auburn and Alabama, it doesn’t matter what the sport is, or how good the teams are, because those rivalry games are intense affairs. Even though Auburn hasn’t lost a game yet this season, it just means there’s more on the line when they face an 8-7 Alabama squad. ‘Bama is only 1-2 in SEC conference play, but they’re 5-1 at home this season.
‘Bama lost two of their last three games, including a wild, double-overtime loss to Florida, 104-98. They were dominated by Kentucky last weekend 76-67. Overall, ‘Bama is 0-2 against ranked teams this season. Now, their defense will be tasked with stopping Auburn and their top two players — Okoro and Doughty.
Florida won four out of their last five games, including a tough road loss at Missouri. They also lost to #24 Butler, and lost 65-62 to Utah State in the Orange Bowl Classic on a neutral court. So far in conference play, Florida is 3-1 in the SEC. Florida is 5-1 playing home games in Gainesville.