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Auburn's win over Kansas puts America on notice

SALT LAKE CITY – Bryce Brown posted a Twitter poll Friday and immediately sent it to a team-wide group message.

The Twitter poll asked the question: Who will win the Round of 32 matchup between Auburn and Kansas. The results? Kansas: 58 percent. Auburn: 42 percent.

Brown wasn't surprised to see it. It's Kansas basketball, and it's Auburn basketball. He can't accept people for accepting that traditional line of thinking. But he wanted one thing to be sure. He wanted everyone on the team to appreciate that it was, indeed, how everybody felt about an Auburn-Kansas basketball matchup.

"That was motivation. They didn't even have to reply to it," Brown said. They understood. "

Everyone in the Auburn locker room mentioned it Friday before the game. Kansas had been to 31

Sweet 16s. Auburn had only advanced to four. Bruce Pearl made that fact painfully clear in his usual attempts at pregame motivation.

The Tigers responded as emphatically as any of them could've imagined.

Kansas hopped out to a 2-0 lead. The Jayhawks led for 17 seconds. Then Anfernee McLemore dunked to tie the game up. Auburn never trailed again.

Throughout the first half, Auburn could not be wrong.

Bryce Brown forgot what it meant to miss a jump shot. Jared Harper didn't remember either. Auburn's defensive tenacity and transition offense resulted in a 26-1 fast-break disparity against a Kansas team seen as one who could keep up with Auburn's pace. It couldn't. Dedric Lawson, the national player of the year contender, had trouble getting anything easy, scrapping and clawing to one made first-half field goal.

By halftime, Auburn led by 26 points. Against Kansas. In basketball. It was a lead that couldn't be caught.

It was the Tigers' night to show everyone – let's call them the 58 percent – they're a force to be reckoned with in college basketball.

"We like "We were excited to play as a program as historic as Kansas. It just showed the world," This is Auburn, "Horace Spencer said." We're the underdogs, but we're here now. because to show what we've got. We want to know how we're coming every game. "When Samir doughty transferred to Auburn, it was the potential of moments like this.

He admits even he couldn't have envisioned this – beating Kansas, advancing to the Sweet 16. Nobody knows if he didn't imagine it, nobody else was going to. He remembers making the decision to leave VCU for Auburn. He had other possibilities, but he chose Auburn for the field it could become even though it wasn't anywhere close to what it is now.

This is vindication.

"I have seen the potential in the team. I knew we had good players, great coaches. I felt like we could make history if I came here. Not a lot of people thought it was great idea for me to come here. I didn't want to make it to the NIT the year before I came here, so nobody thought it was a great idea, "Doughty said." But I definitely didn't envision [Ididn'tthinkwe'dbebeatingKansasbyasmanyaswedidtogettotheSweet16"

It was the primitive Saturday night game of the NCAA Tournament. [19659002] All eyes, as they are often, were on Kansas.

By the end of the game, the college basketball world didn't want to talk about the Jayhawks. They wanted to talk about Auburn. The Tigers were the ones who are one of, if not the, hottest teams in college basketball. They're the ones who rattled off four games in four days and knocked off a perennial blue blood on the national stage.

For the Tigers, it's further proof of relevance.

"We just wanted to make sure that we It's nationally relevant. I know a lot of guys didn't pick us in their bracket just because it was Kansas. It's so historic. We wanted to come out and make it a point early to show that we're nationally relevant now, "Anfernee McLemore said." I think we're very relevant. I think we can play with anybody in the country – the Duke, the North Carolinas, anybody. I definitely think nobody is going to take us lightly. It's going to pay for it. "For the Bryce Browns and Horace Spencers of the team, they know what it's like to be the low of the low. There were times they never saw Auburn's basketball program surviving the depths it found itself in.

That was what it did Saturday night against a program as historically known as Kansas was exactly what Auburn – most of these Tigers who never came close to sniffing in Jayhawks offer – needed to establish its brand among college basketball elite. [19659002] "It's hard to explain. Just coming out of high school being a 3-star, not being highly recruited. Auburn was the only high-major school offering. Being in the spotlight, being one of the faces of the program, it means so much to me, "said Brown." Bruce Pearl rarely doubted Auburn basketball would reach these heights

It took hard work. It took great players.

But when his team took the floor against Kansas, he already felt his program was among the best in the entire country. And he certainly felt that: Sure, it was Kansas, but now it's also Auburn. And the Tigers made certain every college basketball fan in America knows what that means in 2019.

"This is a couple times now in these postgame interviews – the better team won tonight. when Auburn team plays a Kansas team, "Pearl said." The fact that it can be done at Auburn is a real strong statement.These kids all came to Auburn on a promise that, if we came together, maybe we could put something together and could do it together and make a basketball program. "

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