With losses in two of its last three games, No. 14 Auburn has one more road trip left in the regular season, and it may be the toughest of them all. One win away from its first SEC regular season title since 1999, Auburn will travel to Fayetteville on Tuesday to take on one of the hottest teams in the SEC.
Arkansas, who has won five of its last six games, will host the Tigers Tuesday night looking for a final signature win to add to its NCAA Tournament résumé as the Hogs look for a higher seed in the Big Dance.
The Razorbacks are 14-2 inside Bud Walton Arena this season, with its losses coming to Kentucky and LSU. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl knows how tall of a task his team faces Tuesday night.
“Arkansas is really good,” Pearl said. “They've won nine out of their last 11 (against Auburn). It's a matchup of two of the best offensive teams in the league. They lead the league in field-goal percentage. They have seven seniors on the roster, and we're going there for senior night trying to win a championship.
“They don't lose at home. They're 14-2 at home, and they're really good there.”
The last time Auburn visited Bud Walton Arena, Auburn pulled out a 90-86 victory, one of its five conference victories in the 2016-17 season, on the back of Bryce Brown’s 27 points. Then a freshman, Brown buried nine of his 14 three-point attempts, one short of Auburn’s single-game record for three-pointers made.
With the Tigers season in a completely different place this season compared to Pearl’s second year at Auburn, Brown will be looked upon again to provide a boost in the scoring column. However, Brown is shooting just 24 percent during Auburn’s last three games.
“I would say guys are just face-guarding, and if the ball is on the other side of the floor, they're keeping their eyes on me,” Brown said about opposing team’s defense on him. “They're right there on me. I've never been guarded like that. It's just been starting recently where teams have been. The ball would be on the other side of the court and they're just hugging me, just right there on me.”
With the possibility of a SEC clinch in Fayetteville, Brown said the Tigers are not feeling any pressure.
“To be honest with you, it's not much pressure, but we're just very excited at this point,” Brown said. “I feel like we've come a long way and I wouldn't say it's pressure. I just feel like it's more excitement. Others might think it is just because it hasn't happened in a long time.
“We want to be that team that does it. But I don't feel any pressure. I'm excited to see it happen.”
After seeing its lead in the SEC trimmed to one game over the weekend, Auburn is looking to regain its momentum as it comes around the final turn of the regular season.
“I feel like we've got to get that chip back on our shoulder,” Brown said. “Just get back to playing like we used to. We're not playing bad right now, but there is a little difference. Really I feel like just getting that chip back on our shoulder. Just sticking with the game plan and what the coaches tell us.”
Auburn and Arkansas will tip-off at 8 p.m. CST on the SEC Network Tuesday. Auburn has never won back-to-back games in Fayetteville, but will have the chance to do so Tuesday night.