Tennessee closes door on Auburn, 78-67

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) has a shot blocked by Auburn center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (0) during the second half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Tennessee won 78-67. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) has a shot blocked by Auburn center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (0) during the second half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Tennessee won 78-67. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

No player on the current Tennessee men’s basketball team had ever lost to Auburn. The Tigers made the Vols sweat on Wednesday, but that stayed the same.

UT (11-5, 2-1) beat Auburn (8-6, 0-3) 78-67 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The win marked UT coach Cuonzo Martin’s 50th as a head coach. The Vols have now won six straight against Auburn, including eight in a row in Knoxville.

Time and time again Auburn cut UT’s double-digit lead. And time and time again a crowd of 14,205 fell silent, dreading a repeat of what happened against Texas A&M here last Saturday, when the Vols sputtered and stalled and let a 14-point halftime lead turn into a one-point loss.

This time, though, the opponent’s comeback attempts were capped. UT’s starters were the key. Every one scored in double figures.

UT led 33-28 at intermission. Auburn cut that lead to two with a 3-pointer on its first possession of the second half. It wouldn’t get closer than that, but it went back and forth between 12 and four for the rest of the game.

Auburn’s Chris Denson led all scorers with 24. His teammate, KT Harrell, added 15.

Jordan McRae surged in the second half to finish with 21 points. Jarnell Stokes had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Josh Richardson added 15. Maymon kicked in 11 points and eight boards before fouling out. And Antonio Barton scored 11.

Fans left relieved. The collapse they feared never came.

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Comments » 2

wigmeister writes:

Thought they might blow this one at the end, but they played better down the stretch. What is with the turnovers for both the men and women? Is that a new course they are teaching at UT? If so, both teams should get A's.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to wigmeister:

Thought they might blow this one at the end, but they played better down the stretch. What is with the turnovers for both the men and women? Is that a new course they are teaching at UT? If so, both teams should get A's.

Yeah, both teams have lately been a bit jittery with the ball. The LVs have done it all season--heck, for years now--but the men were much better about that than they have been lately. Not the way you want that curve bending as you head into the meat of conference play.

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