Seniors Drew Modrov and Karl Krug along with sophomores Leon Tofey and Marcelo Chierighini scored up 34 points for the Tigers with a second place in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Their time of 1:16.67 trailed Cal's 1:16.58.
Cal is in first place with 157.5 points followed by Stanford with 140 points, Texas 128.5, Arizona 118 and Auburn is next with 106.5. Michigan is in sixth with 84, Southern Cal is next with 79 while Florida with 58, Louisville with 56 and Texas A&M with 43 round out the Top 10.
"We swam great this morning and set it up for tonight," Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. "We had some really good swims. The 200 free relay stepped up. The boys came together tonight.
"We left a couple of points on the board in a few individual swims, but we've proven that we can be in this meet and we can compete," Hawke added. "We're looking forward to coming back tomorrow and racing tough. We really need guys to step up tomorrow."
The top individual performance for the Tigers came from Zane Grothe, who broke his own school record in the 500 freestyle with a time 4:15.42. The sophomore finished in fourth place, three spots better than his 2011 showing.
"Zane is swimming outstanding," Hawke said. "He's out there working hard, most of the time by himself. It's good to see him get those rewards at the end of all this.
The most disappointing event of the evening for the Tigers was the 50-yard freestyle. Auburn qualified just one person for the championship final. That swimmer, Modrov, finished eighth in 19.62 after swimming 19.36 in the prelims. Krug posted a faster time, 19.49, but it was in the consolation final, putting him in 11th place. Chierighini tied for last in the consolation final in 19.65.
The Tigers added 28 points in the final event of the night, the 400 medley relay. Junior Kyle Owens, junior Stuart Ferguson, Tofey and Chierighini finished in fifth place with a time of 3:06.51.
The competition at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center runs through Saturday night.