The Tennessee Volunteers (17-14, 9-9 SEC) fell in their final game of the season 85-63 to the No.17 Auburn Tigers (25-6, 12-6 SEC).
Tennessee seniors Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden were honored for Senior Night prior to tip-off.
The Tigers came out of the gate firing from deep. Auburn shot 37.5% from 3-point range in the first half.
After setting a career high in points against Kentucky, John Fulkerson kept the Vols within striking distance of the Tigers with 13 first-half points. However, the Vol offense could not keep up with the Tigers’ efficient shooting.
To make matters worse for the Vols, Auburn dominated Tennessee on the boards throughout the night. The Vols were out-rebounded 20 to nine in the first half.
“You’ve gotta go get it,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said after the game on his team’s poor rebounding. “The ones you’ve got to get are the ones around the rim, and we didn’t do that.”
Those extra boards allowed Auburn to get off five more shots than Tennessee in the first half, which proved costly by halftime. Tennessee went into the locker room down 42-31.
Coming out of the break, Tennessee quickly went to work, cutting into the Auburn lead.
Midway through the second half, the Volunteers found themselves within single digits of the Tigers, but Auburn’s 3-point shooting kept Tennessee at a comfortable distance.
Santiago Vescovi hit a few key 3-pointers, but the Vols were unable to tie the game up when the opportunity arose.
Tiger guard Samir Doughty sank a dagger from the 3-point line with under three minutes to play to make it a 78-62 game. The late 3-pointer was Doughty’s eighth of the game on just 13 attempts.
“Samir Doughty showed why he should be a first team All-Conference player,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said following the game.
Auburn kept firing from deep with the game firmly in hand, and the Tigers left Thompson-Boiling Arena with an 85-63 win over the Vols.
“When we had the chance to get back in, we’d have a mistake that you can’t have, but again, they had something to do with those mistakes,” Barnes said.
Though Tennessee had periods of sloppy play throughout the game, Auburn’s win came on the back of the Tigers’ offensive play rather than on Tennessee’s mistakes. Auburn finished the game with 50% shooting and 42 rebounds to Tennessee’s 33.3% shooting and 26 rebounds.
“They make tough shots, they have great players on their team with Doughty and a big presence inside like [Austin] Wiley, so they’re a tough team to play,” Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden said.
As has often been the case throughout the Vols’ season, the bright spot in Tennessee’s game came from the Vols’ ability to draw fouls and execute at the free throw line. Tennessee hit 19-of-24 free throws to Auburn’s 13-of-19.
With the Vols’ regular season now behind them, next up for Tennessee is tournament play. The SEC Tournament in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena begins on March 11.
Edited by Ryan Sylvia and Libby Dayhuff
Featured image by Christian Knox