The No. 23 Vols started out SEC play with a collapse and loss in overtime to Arkansas over the weekend. They needed a win to avoid an 0-2 start to conference play, and they had Auburn in a double digit deficit in the first half.
But then Auburn went on a run, and Tennessee could never quite recover enough to retake control of the game.
The Vols (9-4, 0-2) lost their second-straight game and dropped their SEC home opener 94-84 to Auburn (13-1, 1-0). The win was the first for former Vol head coach Bruce Pearl in Thompson-Boling Arena since he was a coach for Tennessee, and he improved to 2-4 against his former team.
Lamonte Turner and Grant Williams turned in strong nights for the Vols despite the loss. Turner totaled a team-high 25 points, and Williams chipped in 22 points. Williams was held to just five points in the first half, but he came out with passion in the second half. He also had eight rebounds.
Jordan Bone added 18 points, two assists, and two rebounds while Admiral Schofield had 13 points and six rebounds.
Tennessee will likely drop out of the top 25 of the AP Poll unless they can manage the upset over Kentucky when they host the Wildcats on Saturday.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from Tennessee’s 94-84 loss to Auburn.
It’s not often that this Tennessee basketball squad gets out-hustled. But that’s exactly what happened tonight.
Auburn ripped down 22 offensive rebounds compared to UT’s 14, and the Tigers managed to score 28 second chance points. The Vols only had 18 such points. Auburn held the overall rebounding advantage 46 to 38.
Tennessee turned the ball over 15 times while Auburn only coughed up the ball 10 times. The Tigers also shot nearly 20 more field goals than the Vols thanks to all their second chance opportunities. Add all that to the Tigers out-rebounding the Vols, and it was a recipe for disaster for Tennessee on a freezing Tuesday night.
Another Second Half Collapse
Tennessee didn’t have a halftime lead for the first time all season, but they still had a sizable lead in the first half and took the lead back several times in the second half.
But then the Vols’ hit a dry spell, and Auburn suddenly figured out how to shoot the ball.
The Tigers started the game just 3-of-24 from behind the three-point arc, but then they caught fire down the stretch in the second half. Auburn finished the game nailing six of their seven three-pointers, and several of those came after offensive rebounds.
The Vols managed to make just one of their eight three-point attempts in the second half, and they looked listless on the boards down the stretch.
Fouls For Everyone
This game saw as many fouls as it did field goals made by both teams.
Auburn and Tennessee accumulated a combined 54 fouls, and the two teams combined to make just 54 field goals as well. Auburn had 29 fouls called on them and made 30 field goals while the Vols made 24 field goals and were called for 25 fouls.
The two teams combined to shoot 66 free throws in the game. The Vols made 30 of their 37 attempts while Auburn went 25-of-29 from the free throw line.