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Auburn hoops at Ole Miss might be on the verge of a nation's No. 1 ranking

Auburn hoops at Ole Miss might be on the verge of a nation's No. 1 ranking

Auburn has the opportunity to do something it has never done in program history, including to gain the No. 1 spot in the AP poll.

The fourth-ranked Tigers (15-1, 4-0 SEC) are the nation's top players, with their 12-game winning streak the longest in the country following a 81-77 victory at No. 24 Alabama on Tuesday.

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If the two sides take care of their jobs this weekend, they will be aiming for the top spot in Monday's poll.

Auburn's resume, to this point, is among the most rated teams in the nation. The Tigers are ranked sixth in NET ratings and are an NCAA-best 9-1 in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 games this season. Gonzaga, third in NET, is 4-2 in Q1, but does not have a Q2 game on its resume.

All that's standing between Auburn and that top spot is a rematch to Oxford, Miss., where the Tigers will face Ole Miss (9-6, 1-2), for a 7:30 p.m. tip on SEC Network.

Ole Miss is unlikely to have a win against Auburn, as the Rebels have won nine of their 13 matchups with the Tigers since Bruce Pearl was given over on the Plains.

Ole Miss has beaten us as much as anybody in the league, and Kermit (Davis) has done a great job against us and Andy Kennedy before that, Pearl said.

Ole Miss's continued success against Auburn during Pearl's tenure is thanks to Cardinal Kermit Davis, who has been a thorn in Pearl's side over the years. Davis has been a big help for Pearl's offenses over the years, including a 4-2 record during his time at Middle Tennessee State, which included a 76-70 overtime defeat against Alabama in 2017.

Pearl said: Kermits done a really good job against us from that point (after the 2015 game), but we have a chance to play them again on Saturday, and hopefully well do better.

Auburn has been one of the most well-known teams in the country of late, capturing at least 12 points each in their first three SEC games before squashing a tumultuous victory at Tuscaloosa. But the Tigers have struggled in Oxford over the years. One of the most successful teams in the country has won just two of their last 12 games, with one winning a one-point double-overtime victory two years ago.

Pearl said: They've done a great job of protecting us.

The Tigers have five newcomers including four players in the starting lineup, one of whom is the probable no. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft who have contributed to their success this season.

The Tigers will have a chance to help Auburn defeat Ole Miss in a recent AP poll, but that would propel the team to a new height that the program has not yet reached.

Pearl has often harped on the significance of making history, including Tuesday night after winning at Alabama. Now his Auburn team has a chance to make some more with a win against Ole Miss.

Tom Green is a reporter for Auburn, Alabama, Media Group. Follow him on Twitter.

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