AUBURN, Ala. (EETV)- The Auburn Tigers Men’s Basketball team returned to the court Tuesday, September 25 for their first official practice of the season. The team is starting the season as defending SEC champs, but they are not thinking of that title as they prepare for this season.

Coach Bruce Pearl said, “When you come back to Auburn Arena, there will be a banner hanging up there. But we won’t be raising it… we’ve moved past that.” 

The Tigers’ theme for the upcoming season is to finish what they started last season.

Last season the Tigers ended strong by making it to the NCAA tournament — something they haven’t been able to accomplish since 2003 — but things didn’t go the Tigers way. A tough loss to Clemson in the second round ended their NCAA tournament dreams and cut their season short.

The Tigers are ready to get back on the court and fight for a title that was almost attainable last season. Point guard Jared Harper spoke about their offseason preparation to Greg Ostendorf, a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com

Harper said, “We’ve all been working really hard this offseason starting after we lost to Clemson. We celebrated how well we did last season, but we also focused on working hard…it’ll be hard to accomplish those same goals this upcoming year.”

Three key players, Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, and Samir Doughty, sat out last season so they are very excited to jump back in the swing of things. The Tigers have six returning players, including Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, who were key players in the team’s SEC title win last year. Harper and Brown were both named All-SEC after the 2017-18 season.

Preseason polls show the Tigers as a top-15, and some even a top-10 team, which is unusual for Auburn given past years preseason rankings.

The goal for this team is to take last season's accomplishments and advance them a little further. The SEC title was a big accomplishment, but this team is hungry for more.

The Tigers start basketball festivities on October 11th as they host an event called “Tip-off at Toomer’s.” Everyone is encouraged to attend.