Auburn Basketball No. 1 in AP Top 25 for first time in program history

Auburn guard Wendell Green Jr. (1) and Kentucky guard Kellan Grady (31) battle for a ball as it...
Auburn guard Wendell Green Jr. (1) and Kentucky guard Kellan Grady (31) battle for a ball as it goes out of bounds during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)(Butch Dill | AP)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 12:06 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:27 PM EST
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AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Auburn Men’s Basketball has been dribbling, shooting, and dunking on opponents for 116 years, but there’s something it’s never managed to do, until Monday. The Associated Press poll now has the Tigers as the No. 1 team in the nation, a first in program history.

The Tigers have climbed as high as No. 2 in prior years and were tabbed by Sports Illustrated as the No. 1 preseason squad in 1999, but the top spot in the AP Top 25 has always been out of reach. It almost happened a week ago, but the Tigers were edged out of the historic position when Gonzaga jumped them by just four votes.

After dispatching Georgia midweek and the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday, however, there was no doubt which team would lead the nation when the tally was final. The 60-member voting panel comprised of media members across the country gave Auburn 45 first-place votes and 1,504 points while Gonzaga tallied 15 first-place votes and 1,475 points.

Gonzaga, Arizona, Baylor and Kansas round out the week’s Top 5 teams.

The Tigers rallied from a 10-point deficit against Kentucky Sunday to win their 15th straight game of the season. UK is now the highest-ranked team to lose at Auburn Arena since it opened in 2010 and is the latest in the Tiger’s undefeated 10-game streak at home this season.

The Tigers are on a 15-game winning streak and are 18-1 overall so far for the season, including 7-0 in SEC play. That’s the fourth-best start in program history and only the second 7-0 SEC start. The last happened during the 1958-59 season when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House.

Bruce Pearl’s team achievement means Auburn marks just the eighth all-time SEC school to achieve a No. 1 national ranking.

Pearl is also making history, himself, according to the Auburn Athletics Department. He’s now led three schools to a No. 1 national ranking. Those include Southern Indiana (NCAA Division II) in 1997, Tennessee in 2008 and now Auburn.

He’s now just one of three head coaches all-time to have three schools reach No. 1 in the polls. The others include Frank McGuire (St. John’s, North Carolina and South Carolina) and John Calipari (UMass, Memphis and Kentucky).

And Pearl holds the distinction of being the only head men’s basketball coach in conference history to lead two SEC programs to No. 1 in the land.

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