Bruce Pearl understands that Auburn has had a bit of a rollercoaster of a season, but liked what he saw from the Tigers on Friday as they dispatched of Jacksonville State in the NCAA Tournament.

“If people hadn’t watched Auburn play all year and saw us play today, they’d think we’re pretty good,” he said after the win.

With the win, Pearl knocked off longtime rival Ray Harper, who won most of their matchups on the Division II level.

“It feels good…. We had the 2 best jobs in Division II basketball,” Pearl said, and just happened to have to go through each other many times in the postseason. “I have so much respect for Coach Harper.”

About Jaylin Williams’ health status for Sunday: “Jaylin is going to get some work done today. They’re going to evaluate him and he’ll go through a concussion protocol. We don’t know. He was playing well.”

As for Jabari Smith’s thunderous dunk, Pearl made the SportsCenter sound, and added, “He postered him. He really did. And those kids love it.”

The Kentucky loss also resonated with Pearl, and Pearl said he talked to his team “a little bit” about Kentucky, a fellow 2-seed from the SEC which lost on Thursday.

“There’s a part of me that felt for Kentucky,” Pearl said. “I know it sounds odd or strange. I felt for Cal, and I felt for his players.”

H/T Nathan King, Tom Green and Justin Hokanson.