As a result, the underdog Tigers, the 10th seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament East regional, will advance to the Sweet 16 round to play the Syracuse Orangemen on Friday in Albany, N.Y.
Trailing since the start of the game, Auburn tied the contest at 48-48 on a rebound basket by Nathan Watson with 8:41 left in the game.
The Tigers took their first lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by Marquis Daniels at 51-49 with 7:27 to play.
Auburn took the lead for good at the 6:15 mark at 53-51 on a pair of free throws by Marco Killingsworth. The Tigers stretched the lead to six on a pair of free throws by Lewis Monroe and Brandon Robinson to pull ahead 57-51 at the 4:32 mark and the smell of an upset was definitely in the air at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Wake Forest cut the lead to 57-54 on a three-pointer by Justin Gray with four minutes left, but the Tigers stretched their lead on the Demon Deacons to eight points on two free throws by Daniels with 46.6 seconds left. Wake Forest then hit two three-pointers down the stretch, but Monroe iced the victory by making four straight free throws and he was six of six for the game.
The Tigers improved their record to 22-11 overall and moved to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in school history. The last trip was in 1999 where the Tigers fell to Ohio State. Auburn has advanced into the Elite Eight just once in 1986.
Wake Forest jumped on Auburn early. The ACC champions led 9-2 at the 16:35 mark. Auburn cut the gap to 25-21 at the 6:42 mark, but the Demon Deacons stretched the margin to 34-25 before the Tigers cut the gap to 38-34 as Monroe drilled a three-point jumper just before the halftime break.
Four Tigers scored in double figures led by Daniels with 18 points. Monroe added 12 while Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson got 11 big points off the bench. Nate Watson added five points and strong defensive work.
Auburn shot 42.9 percent and held the No. 2 seed to 36.7 percent shooting with a tight defense that got tighter as the game progressed. Kyle Davis blocked four shots and helped keep the Wake Forest shooting percentage down as he patrolled the middle.
Gray led the Demon Deacons and all scorers with 26 points as he hit five of six treys.