Following the win at home against Vanderbilt, the Tennessee Volunteers (15-12, 7-7 SEC) traveled down to The Plains to take on the No. 13 Auburn Tigers (23-4, 10-4 SEC).
Despite having a significantly better record than the Volunteers, the Tigers only opened up as a 6.5 point favorites according to oddsshark.com. Auburn’s breakout freshman star guard Isaac Okoro missed the game due to a lingering injury.
Auburn started off the game with a quick 4-o lead before freshman Santiago Vescovi was able to connect from 3-point range. Both teams continued to trade buckets for the next several possessions until another Vescovi three gave the Vols a 10-8 lead.
Auburn missed eight consecutive shots, and the Vols capitalized on Auburn’s slump by increasing their lead to six points.
The Tigers were able to battle back and tie the game 24-24. Jordan Bowden connected on a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, regaining the lead for Tennessee.
Despite the turnovers and red-shirt junior John Fulkerson only playing three minutes, Tennessee entered half-time with a 41-33 lead. Tennessee shot 52% percent from the field in the half compared to Auburn’s 34.5%. Jordan Bowden finished the first half with 17 points on five-of-five from the field.
The Volunteers started off the second-half hot, increasing their lead to 17 points.
Following a couple of Tennessee turnovers and an Auburn 3-pointer, the Tigers were able to cut the lead to 12 points with 12:35 remaining in the game. Tennessee continued to struggle with turnovers, allowing the Tigers to go on a 15-0 run. Tennessee’s lead quickly dwindled down to five with a little under ten minutes remaining in the first half.
Auburn took a 55-54 with a 3-pointer before Jalen Johnson with a put-back. Auburn countered the Tennessee basket with an and-one basket, taking back a 57-56 lead.
The Vols were able to gain a little momentum and took the lead back 60-57. Auburn quickly responded with a quick seven-point swing with 2:59 remaining.
Tennessee was able to tie up the game 64-64, but Auburn quickly responded with a 3-pointer with a little under a minute and a half remaining.
Santiago Vescovi was able to drive in for a lay-up, cutting the lead down to one with 1:14 remaining in the game. Following another turnover and the inability to find the bottom of the basket, the Vols fell to Auburn 73-66. Despite Jordan Bowden’s career high 28 point performance, 24 Vol turnovers proved to be too much for Tennessee to end the game with a win.
“You are what the numbers say you are. We’re a team that turns it over too much and isn’t strong with the ball until we prove we aren’t. That’s who we are right now,” Rick Barnes said.
Tennessee will now have under four days to improve on their turnover issues before they travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tip off on Feb. 26 is set for 7:30 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
Edited by Ryan Sylvia and Christian Knox
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics