AUBURN, Ala. — Mustapha Heron scored 17 points and Auburn fended off a late comeback attempt to secure an 88-77 victory over No. 22 Arkansas on Saturday, the Tigers 12th consecutive win.
Saturday’s decision, coupled with Tuesday’s win at No. 23 Tennessee, marks the first time in 11 years that Auburn has won consecutive games against ranked opponents. The last time it happened was 2007, when the Tigers beat No. 22 Tennessee and No. 12 Alabama in a span of six days.
Auburn (14-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) hit 12 of its first 18 shots as it opened the game on a 29-18 run. After Arkansas’ CJ Jones cut the advantage to nine with a layup, Malik Dunbar hit a pair of free throws, Anfernee McLemore threw down a dunk and Chuma Okeke hit a jumper during the course of a 6-0 run that gave the Auburn a double-digit lead it held until the final 6 minutes of the game.
Arkansas (11-4, 1-2) cut the deficit to as little as seven points with 3:55 remaining in the second half thanks to a 16-6 run sparked by Darious Hall and Jaylen Barford, but the Razorbacks never got closer than that. Bryce Brown hit a 3, Davion Mitchell and Desean Murray each hit a layup, and Jared Harper salted the victory away from the free throw line.
Heron was one of five Auburn players in double figures along with Murray (15), Harper (14), Brown (13), and Okeke (10).
Barford scored 21 to lead the Razorbacks.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have now followed a six-game winning streak with back-to-back road losses at Mississippi State and Auburn to fall to 1-2 in SEC play.
Auburn: A win in their SEC home opener extended the Tigers’ winning streak to 12 games (their longest since 1999-2000) and pushed their record to 14-1, which is their best start since that same season.
In a span of 41 seconds, Auburn’s Dunbar hit a 3 and finished an alley-oop dunk, taking a feed from freshman point guard Mitchell and throwing down a one-handed dunk that gave Auburn a 21-point lead with 11:24 left to play.
Arkansas freshman Daniel Gafford entered Saturday’s game averaging 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and, at 6-foot-11, had a significant size advantage against Auburn’s frontcourt, but he finished the game with just eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes as he dealt with foul trouble.
Arkansas entered Saturday’s game at No. 22 in the poll, but the loss in Auburn Arena coupled with one Tuesday should see it dropped from the rankings. Auburn, which received votes but was not ranked in the most recent poll, could approach or even capture its first spot in the Top 25 since January 2003.
Arkansas will try to stop a two-game losing streak when it returns home to host LSU on Wednesday.
Auburn goes for 13th win in a row at home against Ole Miss on Tuesday.