The loss couldn’t have come at a worse time for Tennessee, as their six game win streak came to a sudden halt behind the outstanding play of Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with 25 points, to go along with nine rebounds and four steals.
Not only did the loss deny Tennessee’s bid for a seventh straight win, which would have been the first since 2008, but it also could have been the end of Tennessee’s chances at an at large bid come Selection Sunday.
Now head coach Cuonzo Martin and his squad will hit the road and head to Auburn for the season’s final away game.
Auburn (9-20) is in the midst of another mediocre-at-best season, sitting in next to last place in the SEC standings, with all hopes of a shot in March Madness long gone. With Tennessee still on the proverbial bubble, Auburn’s role come Wednesday night will be spoiler.
The Tigers are led by senior guard Frankie Sullivan, averaging 14.1 points on the season.
For the Vols, the key will be junior guard and SEC player of the year candidate Jordan McRae, who is averaging 26.8 points and six rebounds in his last five contests, while also shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 63.6 from beyond the arc.
Currently, McRae is averaging 19.4 points on the season, which among the six major conferences is tied for fifth in the country.
He will look to continue his level of play in the wake of going for 35 points in the loss against Georgia, the most for a Tennessee player since Chris Lofton's 35 against Texas in 2006.
Wednesday night’s game, while not the most intriguing matchup, can’t be overlooked in the shadow of the regular season finale against Missouri at Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday will be a critical stepping stone towards the Vols getting a bid for March Madness.
Sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes currently leads the SEC in rebounding and is averaging a double-double in SEC matchups, going for 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Tennessee leads the series against Auburn, 71-37, but are only 26-22 in Auburn. The Vols have won the past four contests, the last one coming Jan. 28, 2012 in Knoxville, with the Vols winning 64-49.
The Volunteers are currently sitting in sixth place in the SEC, 1.5 games behind Alabama.
The game will top off Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET at Auburn Arena.