With Auburn on the verge of its first SEC regular season championship since 1999, head coach Bruce Pearl earned a well-deserved accolade Friday morning.
Pearl was named a semifinalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The winner of the award will be announced on Apr. 1.
Pearl has led his Auburn team to one of the most historic seasons in program history. With two of his top all-around players declared ineligible this season, Pearl has led his undersized and undermanned team to 24 wins to just four losses so far this season. The 24 wins are tied for the second-most in program history.
The Tigers entered the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2003 this season, and have been ranked for seven consecutive weeks, peaking at No. 8 this season.
Pearl, who won National Coach of the Year at Tennessee in 2006, is joined by Rick Barnes (Tennessee), Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Tony Bennett (Virginia), Brad Brownell (Clemson), Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Chris Holtmann (Ohio State), Chris Mack (Xavier), Matt Painter (Purdue) and Jay Wright (Villanova) as finalists for the award.
Pearl and his Tigers will travel to Gainesville to take on Florida Saturday night. With a win, Auburn would clinch the third SEC regular season chapmionship in program history.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.