This Saturday, February 22nd, Tennessee will tip-off with No. 13 Auburn on the road at noon Eastern. It will be an 11:00 AM tip-off in Auburn, and the Vols are preparing for the early tip and the prospect of facing a Tigers team that is coming off two-straight losses.
Auburn (22-4, 9-4 SEC) has lost two consecutive road games, falling to lowly Missouri and Georgia on their home courts. But when the Tigers and former Vol head coach Bruce Pearl face-off with Tennessee, they’ll be in their own home arena. Auburn is undefeated at home this season, going a perfect 14-0 at home so far this season.
For Tennessee (15-11, 7-6), beating Auburn over the last few seasons has proved tricky, and nobody has been able to beat the Tigers at home this season. But part of the reason Auburn has struggled over their last two games is because they’ve been without their second-leading scorer, freshman forward Isaac Okoro. The 6-foot-6 freshman suffered a hamstring injury over a week ago and has missed Auburn’s last two games, both of which have been losses. Okoro is averaging 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks a game.
On Thursday, Tennessee head basketball coach Rick Barnes was asked about Auburn’s recent slide, how differently they play without Okoro, his team’s preparations for the huge road contest, and much more. Barnes also discussed why some of his bench players haven’t played a lot of minutes, how tough UT’s schedule is to close out the season, and getting off to a good start on Saturday.
Here’s everything Barnes had to say before Tennessee’s Thursday practice session: