No. 1 Auburn’s recent struggles on the road against SEC competition finally caught up with it on Tuesday as the Tigers dropped an 80-76 overtime thriller to a hot Arkansas team. The outcome ends Auburn’s winning streak at 19 games and extends Arkansas’ winning streak to nine as the Razorbacks continue to rebound from an 0-3 start to league play.
The Razorbacks (19-5, 8-3 SEC) used a 7-0 run consisting entirely of free throws to build a six-point lead in overtime and held on from there amid a pair of late 3-pointers from Auburn freshman phenom Jabari Smith. As the final buzzer sounded, many from a record crowd of 20,327 at Bud Walton Arena filled the floor in celebration of the program’s second-ever victory against a top-ranked opponent. Arkansas’ only other victory against a No. 1-ranked opponent came when it knocked off Michael Jordan’s North Carolina squad in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, during the 1983-84 season.
In terms of NCAA Tournament implications, Tuesday’s outcome elevates Gonzaga to the top overall seed and drops Auburn (22-2, 10-1 SEC) to the No. 2 overall seed in the projected NCAA Tournament bracket, according to CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm. It will do nothing but help an Arkansas team that entered the night as a projected No. 8 seed, per Palm.
JD Notae, who entered tied with Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen as the SEC’s leading scorer, led the Razorbacks with 28 points. Smith contributed 20 for the Tigers. In regulation, Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams hit a layup with 23 seconds left to tie the game, and Auburn’s Wendell Green Jr. missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds to bring on the extra period.
Auburn narrowly scraped out a 55-54 win at Missouri on Jan. 25 in its first game after reaching the top spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history. Then, after double-digit victories against Oklahoma and Alabama, the Tigers needed more late-game heroics on Saturday to knock off lowly Georgia 74-72.
Pearl has admitted in recent interviews that his team may be a bit fatigued amid the mayhem, and its inability to close out another close game may have been a reflection of that.
CBS Sports will update this story shortly with takeaways from the stunning upset on Tuesday night.