(2017-18 RECORD: 12-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. (2017-18 RECORD: 9-3, 0-1 SEC)
|Tue, Jan 2||6 p.m.|
Rod Bramblett and Sonny Smith will have the radio call on 93.9 Tiger FM, online at www.AuburnTigers.com and on the TuneIn app. The game will also be broadcast on ESPNU with Rich Hollenberg and Debbie Antonelli set to describe the action.
The Tigers (12-1, 0-0 SEC) recently capped one of its most successful regular season non-conference slates in program history, winning 12 games before the calendar year for the third time ever.
However, a new beast in league play awaits Auburn.
"The league is the best it's been and the deepest it's been," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "It's going to be a grind night in and night out. Physically, it's going to be a challenge, but I think we are also prepared."
"I think we're confident, but I think it's a new season and a new year so the games are going to be a lot closer," Pearl stated. "If we can continue to make sure that rebounding travels, shooting travels and defense travels are our focus and we can continue to stay healthy, we'll continue to be competitive."
Auburn has a 37-47 record in SEC openers since the league's first season in 1932-33. The Tigers have lost eight of the last 10 SEC openers and Auburn is 11-27 in road SEC openers all-time. Under Pearl, the Tigers are 1-2 in the opening conference game, including an 83-77 triumph against the Vols in 2015.
Auburn has four players that average in double figures this season, led by Bryce Brown (15.8) and Mustapha Heron (15.8). Jared Harper adds 12.2 points and a team-high 5.5 assists per contest. Desean Murray, who leads the team in rebounding at 7.4 boards per tilt, also contributes 10.8 points per game.
During Auburn's 10-game winning streak, the Tigers have outshot opponents .466-.399. Auburn has also been active on defense, averaging 7.1 steals and 6.5 blocks in the last 10 games.
At the conclusion of Tuesday's affair, the Tigers return to action Saturday when they host No. 22 Arkansas. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m. CT on ESPNU and the Auburn Sports Network. For tickets, please www.AubTix.com or call the ticket office at 855-282-2010.
Player to watch: Jared Harper
Sophomore Jared Harper has elevated his game in his second year on The Plains. Harper is touting career averages in points (12.2), assists (5.5) and rebounds (2.5) per game. The Mableton, Ga. native has also shown success against Tennessee. Harper had 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc, to go along with two rebounds and two assists in last year's battle with the Vols.
SEC openers against Tennessee
The Tigers have dueled with the Volunteers 11 times to open Auburn's Southeastern Conference slate. Tennessee holds a 7-4 advantage in such occassions, but Auburn has taken two of the last three, including the 2016 matchup under head coach Bruce Pearl.
On this date
On Jan. 2, 2012, Varez Ward set a record for Auburn Arena with 10 assists in a 67-41 win versus Bethune-Cookman. Ward's dime total was later matched by Kareem Canty three years later in a tilt with Northwestern State in 2015.
Ward's assist tally wasn't the only Auburn Arena set that night. Kenny Gabriel racked up 10 blocks against Bethune-Cookman in a record that still stands to this date in games played on The Plains.
The Tigers have had a plethora of success on Jan. 2 all-time, posting a 21-3 record all-time. Auburn has won its last five on the second day of the new year and 11 of the last 12.