Auburn 2022-23 Basketball Countdown: 14 days out

Auburn 2022-23 Basketball Countdown: 14 days out

(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles previewing the 2022-23 Auburn basketball season.)

AUBURN, Alabama–With the Auburn basketball Tigers opening their regular season in two weeks when they play host to George Mason, Coach Bruce Pearl is ranked fourth in program history for total wins with a chance to move up one spot during his ninth season on the Plains.

Pearl’s record at Auburn is 152-98. Auburn’s all-time wins leader is Joel Eaves, who posted a record of 214-99 in 14 seasons in charge of the Tigers from 1949-50 through the 1962-63 season.

Cliff Elliswho coached 10 Auburn teams beginning with the 1994-95 squad, is number two on the victory list with a mark of 186-125.

Number three in wins is Sonny Smith, who posted a 173-154 mark during 11 seasons from 1979-89 to 1988-89.

Pearl’s winning percentage of .608 is third-best for an Auburn coach behind Eaves at .684 and Mike Papke, who won at a .679 rate in three seasons beginning in 1925-26.

At his current pace of 19 wins per season at Auburn, Pearl could become the all-time winningest coach for the Tigers in three more seasons. During the last five seasons the Tigers have averaged 24.4 wins. Last season the team won 28 times

Pearl’s all-time record as a head coach is 614-243. At Southern Indiana, where he coached from 1992-93, he posted a record of 231-46.

At Wisconsin-Milwaukee he was 86-38 in four seasons.

At Tennessee he posted a record of 145-61 from 2005-06 through 2010-11.

Pearl, the 2022 SEC Coach of the Year, set single-season victory records at Southern Indiana (29), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (26), Tennessee (31) and Auburn (30).

Opening Night Opponent: The Tigers are 1-0 all-time vs. George Mason, winning a home game 79-63 on Dec. 3, 2017. The Patriots finished 14-16 last season. The top returning player is senior forward Josh Oduro, who averaged 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds last season.

Did You Know?: College Football Hall of Fame coach Shug Jordan’s first college head coaching job was in basketball, a sport he played collegiately for the Tigers. Jordan’s hoops coaching record is 95-75 beginning with the 1933-34 season. He led the team through the 1941-42 season before serving in World War II. He returned to coach the Tigers during the 1945-46 season. Jordan began his 25-year run as Auburn’s football coach starting with the 1951 season.

Quoting the Tigers: Jaylin Williams said his main goals for his senior season are for the team to have success in the regular season and postseason play while doing his share in helping make that happen. “I don’t want to disappoint any of my teammates and coaches,” he said. “I just want them to be (able to say) at the end of the year, ‘what a hell of a year for you.’ That is what I want.”

Numbers of Notes: On his way to winning SEC and national defensive player of the year honors, Walker Kessler blocked a school-record 155 shots. However, before he headed to the NBA this season Kessler wasn’t able to break AU’s single-game blocked shots record of 13 set by Kyle Davis vs. Miami in the 2001 NIT with Ellis as head coach.

Johni Broome, a transfer from Morehead State, set a school record for blocked shots last season with 131 while averaging 3.9 per game. Kessler averaged 4.6 blocks in 2021-22.

Last Shot: Former Auburn assistant coach and new Florida head coach Todd Golden had this to say about Pearl. “I have always respected how hard he is able to get his players to play for him and the program.”

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