Normally, every team that gets their chance to play Kentucky treats it as their “Super Bowl.”
It’s also completely normal for many teams to wish Kentucky loses every game the Wildcats’ lace up their shoes for. However, Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl isn’t “normal.” He never has been. In fact, Pearl has been one of the most unique coaches in recent memory.
Pearl’s Southeastern Conference days date back to 2005, when the 59-year old coach was leading Kentucky’s rival Tennessee Volunteers. After six seasons in Knoxville, Pearl left the game for a few seasons until taking over at Auburn.
The veteran head coach has had quite the success with the Tigers, claiming a share of the regular-season crown in 2018, winning the SEC Tournament last season, and taking his team to the Final Four as well.
One specific knock on Pearl, though, has been his struggles against Kentucky. He’s currently 8-15 against the Wildcats all-time and hasn’t exactly had a dominant stretch during those 23 games. So given that Kentucky usually sends Pearl home with disappointment, ‘twas interesting to hear Pearl’s remarks following Saturday afternoon’s loss at Kentucky.
“I’ll congratulate Kentucky on being regular-season champions of our league. I think they’re the best team in our league,” Pearl said.
Pearl went into detail on Kentucky’s guard play, questioning if there is any team other than Kentucky that can play three guards efficiently at both ends of the floor. These comments would be normal routine for any coach who just saw his opponent clinch the conference’s regular season title.
But, once again, Pearl isn’t exactly normal. So here’s what the Tigers’ head coach had to say about Kentucky for the rest of the season.
“If we don’t play them again I am rooting for them. I am rooting for them to go a long way.”
Kentucky rarely has anyone in their corner outside of the Big Blue Nation, but Bruce Pearl may just be on the bandwagon if Auburn can steer clear of the Wildcats this postseason.