By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. -- Bruce Pearl has likened the second half of his team's SEC schedule to the back nine on a golf course. If that's the case, Auburn picked up another par Saturday night with a 93-81 win over Vanderbilt. The Tigers (21-1, 9-1) are still two-games ahead of Tennessee and at least three ahead of everybody else heading into the 11th hole.
However, beginning with Texas A&M on Wednesday, the holes don't get any easier.
"Guys, there are a lot of hazards on this back nine now," Pearl said after Saturday's game. "There is a lot of water and a lot of sand, and there are some really good teams on this back nine. We are just going to take it one hole at a time. We really don't have a bogey yet, but these holes are getting tougher."
Here's a look back at how Auburn took down Vanderbilt on Saturday.
1. Raining threes
Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew was a pretty good shooter in his day -- at the both the college and professional level -- but even he doesn't remember seeing a performance from long range quite like what Auburn put on against his Commodores on Saturday night.
"That's as good of a shooting exhibition as I've seen," Drew said after the game. "That includes all my years playing in the NBA, too."
The Tigers shot 56.1 percent (32 of 57) from the floor, and they were a blistering 65.4 percent (17 of 26) from beyond the arc. The 17 three-pointers made is the most an Auburn team has ever made in an SEC game, and this year's group is now 12-0 this season when they have made at least 10 three-point shots in a game.
Bryce Brown and Mustapha Heron led the way, making nine of their 13 three-point attempts combined. The two finished with 48 points between them. But it was a collective effort as Jared Harper knocked down three from long range, and both Chuma Okeke and Malik Dunbar added two three-pointers apiece off the bench.
"I think we've got a team that everybody can heat it up," Heron said. "It doesn't really matter who it is."
2. Harper's dimes
Every football team needs a good quarterback. It's no different in basketball, and Harper has shown time and again that he is the quarterback for this Auburn team.
The sophomore point guard posted his first double-double for the Tigers on Saturday with 14 points and a career-high 14 assists. It's the most assists by an SEC player this season and one off Eddie Johnson's school record set back in 1976 against LSU.
"I'm just learning and growing as a player," added Harper. "In the offseason, I was looking at what I did last year and what I could do better. Just knowing I can lead the team in assists, almost get six a game and get scorers and shooters in the right spots makes it good for the team."
Harper is currently third in the SEC with 5.8 assists per game, and he's now had 11 games this season with at least seven assists.
3. No. 1 seed?
Who would've guessed that on Super Bowl Sunday this Auburn team would be 21-2, leading the SEC and a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament? There's still a month or so left to play before March Madness, but at this point, it's almost a matter of seeding and not a question as to whether or not the Tigers can punch their ticket for the first time since 2003.
As of Sunday, Shelby Mast of USA Today and RealTimeRPI both projected Auburn as the No. 1 seed in the West region. There could be more that follow suit in the next 24 hours, but at the very least, the Tigers would be locked in as a two seed if the season ended today.
There's also a very good possibility that Auburn will crack the top 10 in the AP poll on Monday with losses by No. 7 Kansas and No. 9 Arizona on Saturday.
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: