Save the Date: Auburn basketball coming to Boone

App+State+is+set+to+welcome+Auburn+to+the+Holmes+Convocation+Center+next+season+in+a+historic+Power+Five+matchup.+

Travis Holshouser

App State is set to welcome Auburn to the Holmes Convocation Center next season in a historic Power Five matchup.

Kolby Shea

App State basketball will end a 23-year drought, as it is set to host Auburn in a non-conference faceoff next December.  

The Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team scheduled a 2023 trip to App State as one of their few non-conference games of the regular season. The Tigers will come to Boone Dec. 3, 2023, for their matchup against the Mountaineers. This will be the first Power Five basketball team to play in Holmes Convocation Center since North Carolina came in 2000 for the arena’s grand opening. 

“It’s hard to do; it’s not easy to get a school like that to come to Boone,” head coach Dustin Kerns said. “It’s huge for our program. It’s huge for our school as we try to continue to raise the profile of our program.”  

This matchup will be a part of a multi-year two-for-one series, said CBS college basketball insider Jon Rothstein. In 2020, App State and Auburn announced a three game series between the two programs. The first game was played in the 2020-2021 season at Neville Arena as a home game for the Tigers. The second game, coming in 2023, was originally scheduled for this year, but the two schools mutually agreed to push it back a season. 

In their 2020 showdown, Auburn came out on top 67-53. That Auburn team came off four straight wins and was looking for its fifth. The Mountaineers were within two points after the nine minute mark in the second half, but the Tigers strung together 12 unanswered points to widen that gap and eventually decide the game. 

Two current juniors, Michael Eads Jr. and CJ Huntley, are the only two returning Mountaineers that played against the 2020 Auburn Tigers. A few other current players were on the team but didn’t log any minutes in the 2020 game, including Xavion Brown, Bryant Greene and Andrew Muse. 

In the past 10 seasons, App State has gone 1-22 against Power Five opponents. The most recent games were against Duke and North Carolina in two inter-state battles. The Mountaineers’ lone victory came against Virginia Tech in 2014, when the Black and Gold defeated the Hokies 65-63 in Blacksburg. This season, the team will play two Power Five schools in Louisville and Wake Forest.

Next year’s Auburn team will not be an easy feat. The Tigers have found recent success under head coach Bruce Pearl. Last season, they were ranked in the top 10 for 11 straight weeks, three of those weeks being the top-ranked team in the country. 

“We are ecstatic to have a team that was No. 1 in the country last year, was in the Final Four in 2019,” Kerns said. “Just a tremendous program coming up the mountain to play.” 

This season, in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25, they come in ranked No. 13. Auburn’s basketball program projects to continue to rise, so next year App State can expect to face one of the most talented teams in the country.