Auburn boosts NCAA Tournament resume with win against Tennessee
Brian Hartman • 3/4/2023 in Basketball
Auburn (20-11, 10-8) picked up a huge NCAA Tournament resume-boosting win, beating #12 Tennessee (22-9, 11-7) 79-70 in Auburn, Alabama.
On senior day, It was Wendell Green Jr. leading Auburn with 24 points. Green was 8-14 from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line.
Green only committed 2 turnovers along with his 4 assists. Auburn as a team only turned the ball over 6 times with 18 total assists.
Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams celebrated their senior day with 16 and 13 points respectively. Flanigan was 5-11 from the floor while making 2 huge three pointers. Williams shot 5-10 from the floor while leading Auburn with 8 rebounds.
Johni Broome was Auburn's 4th double figure scorer with 17 points and 4 blocks.
Auburn shot 49% from the floor. (28-57) The Vols shot 47% from the floor. (25-53)
Auburn avoided a season sweep by the Vols. Tennessee won the first game between the 2 teams on Feb 4th in Knoxville 46-43.
The teams combined for just 89 points in their first meeting. The teams passed that mark with 13:30 to play in this meeting, when Julian Phillips tied the game at 45 with a monster dunk.
Tennessee had four double figure scorers of their own. Santiago Vescovi led the way with 21 points. He shot 8-14 from the field while making 5 of his 9 three point attempts.
Vescovi led Tennessee with 4 assists. All 9 players for Tennessee recorded at least 1 assist. The Vols had 16 total assists as a team while turning it over 11 times.
Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a torn ACL in the Vols win over Arkansas Tuesday night. Zeigler will miss the rest of the season
Tyreke Key scored 13 points for the Vols. Julian Phillips came off the bench and scored 10. Key and Phillips combined to go 10-10 from the free throw line. Tennessee only shot 12-19 (63%) as a team at the charity stripe.
Josiah-Jordan James was the Vols' fourth double figure scorer with 10 points. Tobe Awaka led Tennessee with 10 rebounds. The Vols outrebounded Auburn 35-29.
The Vols took the lead with a 7-0 run over the final 3 minutes of the first half, keyed by a 3 pointer from Vescovi.
Green hit a 3 point shot at the halftime buzzer to cut Tennessee's lead to 34-30 going into the break.
Broome got Auburn off to a good start after halftime, scoring 8 points over the first four minutes that gave the Tigers a 43-39 lead with 16:17 left.
KD Johnson's only points of the game was a 3 pointer that gave Auburn a 51-47 lead with 11:33 left. Walk-on Lior Berman's dunk on a fast break extended the lead to 6.
Tennessee went on a 16-7 run, capped by a Vescovi jumper that gave the Vols a 63-60 lead with 6:15 left. That was Tennessee's last field goal of the game.
The Vols were 0-7 from the floor over the games last 6 minutes, committing 2 turnovers.
Jaylin Williams gave Auburn the lead for good (64-63) with 4:25 left with a jump shot. Williams' 2 free throws along with a 3 point play by Flanigan capped Auburn's 9-0 run as the Tigers took a 69-63 lead with 3:14 left.
Back-to-back buckets from Green over the final 2 minutes gave Auburn an 8 point lead (74-66) with 34 seconds left, assuring the Tigers of a season split vs the Vols.
Auburn will be the #7 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament in Nashville. They will play at 7 ET, 6 CT on Thursday vs the #10 seed which is still to be determined.
Tennessee will be the #5 seed and will play the winner of the game between #12 South Carolina and #13 seed Ole Miss. Ole Miss and S Carolina will play on Wednesday at 7 ET, 6 CT.
Auburn picked up their third quad 1 win of the season by beating the Vols, which is a factor in the NCAA Tournament selection and seeding process. A quad 1 win is over a team that is in the top 30 of the NET ranking if the game is at home. Tennessee's is ranked third. Auburn is an 11 seed in CBS's latest bracketology projection.
The Vols have now lost 4 straight games at Auburn's Neville Arena. Their last win at Auburn was in 2017.
Tennessee won their first 4 SEC road games of the season, before losing their final 5 SEC road games with today's loss.