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Vols Cannot Tame The Tigers On Senior Day

 

The Tennessee Vols hosted the Auburn Tigers on Senior Day in Knoxville, as the two teams continued to fight for SEC Tournament seeding. The Vols were looking for another win to add to their NCAA Tournament bubble resume.

 

Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner were honored before the game, as the crowd rose to a standing ovation for the departing seniors.

 

 

Things got off to a fast-paced start for the Tigers, as they were controlling the tempo during the first seven minutes. Auburn led 11-8 at the 14:39 mark, as the Tigers were 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range.

 

The Vols were trying to push the ball deep into the post, with John Fulkerson having four points early on, and Auburn not seeming to know how to guard him, especially around the free-throw line.

 

As Auburn continued to shoot three-pointers, Tennessee tried to counter with off-ball screens, which were working for a good amount of the first half. This helped, as the Vols had gotten Auburn called for 10 fouls at the 2:52 mark.

 

 

Auburn had a 34-25 lead at the 2:24 mark, with a basket being taken off the board because of Josiah-Jordan James stepping on the baseline. This was followed up by a Danjel Purifoy three, plus an and-one free-throw. That’s a six-point swing, which can’t happen against a high-paced Tigers team.

 

After some clumsy ball handling and a few ticky-tack fouls, the Vols found themselves down 14 heading into their last possession of the first half. With five seconds left on the clock, Bowden hit a very big three, cutting the Auburn lead to 42-31 at halftime.

 

Fulkerson led Tennessee with 13 points in the first half, causing problems for the Tigers in the paint and with his mid-range jumper. Bowden finished the half with seven points and three assists. The rest of the Tennessee team combined for 11 points, with three of them coming from the bench (Jalen Johnson).

 

 

If Tennessee was going to get back in this game, they were going to need to stop the second-chance points and figure out a way to at least control the paint on their end.

 

If the Tennessee season was going to be extended past next week, this second half meant the world.

 

After a quick start from the Tigers, the Vols started to settle down. Santiago Vescovi had scored four points at the U16 break, cutting the Auburn lead to 46-37. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Fulkerson picked up his third foul at the 14:49 mark.

 

Auburn went on an 8-0 run, capped off by a huge three from Samir Doughty, who was left wide open at the top of the perimeter. Those are mistakes that Tennessee could not afford, Auburn led 54-37 at the 13:29 mark. Doughty had 23 points at this moment.

 

Tennessee erupted for a 14-3 run over 1:49 to cut the lead to 57-51, after Vescovi drained two consecutive three pointers, bringing the TBA crowd to a fever pitch.

 

Auburn continued to shoot the basketball, no matter how far they were from the rim, knocking down a few in the process. Auburn had a 68-56 lead at the 8:19 mark, with J’von McCormick knocking down a momentum killing three. The Vols kept fighting to get back in it, but the Tigers were responding.

 

Tennessee had gone over four minutes without a field goal, which won’t keep you close enough with Auburn, unfortunately. Finally, Vescovi drained another three, cutting the Auburn lead to 72-62. The Vols weren’t going out without a fight.

 

At the 3:28 mark of the second half, Auburn led 75-62, as they continued to drain mildly contested three-point shots. The Tigers had continued to force the Vols into problems, especially in the passing lanes. Even after a few Vescovi three-pointers, it just never felt like Tennessee could get back in it, after that run earlier in the half.

 

Auburn finished the game on a 13-1 run to win 85-63, and there wasn’t much Tennessee could do with some of the shots the Tigers were knocking down. Samir Doughty scored 32 points for Auburn, going 8-13 from 3PT range. That’s just absurd, but almost a trend for players against Tennessee.

 

The Tigers ran out the clock as much as they could, just as the clock most likely ran out on Tennessee’s long shot chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Unless the Vols win the SEC Tournament next week in Nashville, they won’t be dancing in March.

 

This was not the home ending that this team had imagined, especially Bowden. They’ve taken the hard way, these players have to pick themselves up and get ready for Nashville.

 

Opportunity still awaits in the Music City.

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