Bruce Pearl has commented several times on the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll, and Auburn reaching that perch for the first time in program history. But now it’s real.

“The No. 1 ranking matters because it’s historical,” he told reporters on Monday. “I’m very happy for Auburn. I’m very happy for my coaches and our players.”

Still, it’s Jan. 24, and there’s plenty of season left, and that may be why Pearl is not ready to celebrate.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “There’s reasons why we were down double-digits at home to Kentucky.”

It’s been a long-time coming for Auburn, which was somewhat of an afterthought both in the SEC, and nationally to start the season.

Auburn climbed past Gonzaga to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll, which was released Monday. The Tigers beat Kentucky over the weekend for their 15th consecutive win, then scooped up 45 of 61 first-place votes to become the nation’s top-ranked team for the first time since the poll began with the 1948-49 season.

The Bulldogs dropped to No. 2 with 15 first-place votes. Arizona remained third and earned the other No. 1 vote.

“I think for us, it’s the sum of our parts,” Pearl, who led the Tigers to the Final Four in 2019, told the Associated Press. “If we’re playing 9 guys on a regular basis, or sometimes 10, you’ve got to account for all of them. And I thought (against Kentucky) we got really great contributions, you know, from everybody.”

H/T Jordan D. Hill and Christian Clemente.