Bruce Pearl wanted this one. You could tell in his pre-game interviews all week that he wanted to get a victory over his old team badly. Thanks to great 3 point shooting by Auburn and lousy 3 point shooting by Tennessee, he got his win, an 83-77 victory.
When I say lousy for Tennessee, I mean lousy. Without looking at the stat sheet, I believe UT was 3-27 from behind the arc. That is hard to do. Many of the missed 3's were uncontested.
Auburn lost yet another guard to injury when late in the first half, T.J. Lang butted heads with a much larger Volunteer going after a loose ball. Lang got his nose bloodied and his bell rung, and did not return.
Three Things We Learned....
1. The Tandem of Canty and Brown is just wow. Those two Auburn guards will keep them in a lot of games this year, because they can make shots from anywhere. They drive me crazy, because I really like attacking the basket rather than settling for jumpers. When the shots fall, you can't complain. That being said, I hate whatever it is you call Auburn's offense. There is no movement and no off the ball screens. Just a whole lot of standing till the shot clock gets down to 7 or 8 seconds. Fortunately, at least today, Canty and Brown can bail out the Auburn offense.
2. Rebounding is 90 % "want to." The only and I mean only reason this game was relatively close was Tennessee's second chance opportunities. Auburn got caught many times standing and looking, giving the Vols easy put backs. For our more football savvy readers, rebounding is a lot like tackling, you have to make an effort every time to do it and use your fundamentals. You put your rear end on a guy and hold him there to rebound. It is a bit of a concern, but this is really the first game Auburn has been really dominated on the glass.
3. My player of the game will seem strange. If I told you Auburn's MVP today didn't score a point, what would you think? To me, Patrick Keim, the walk on guard from Mountain Brook, gets the game ball. He came in after Lang's injury and defended and handled the basketball. The defensive intensity was noticeably better when he was in the game. That is no surprise having watched him play in high school. If you want to see what real defense is, go watch Mountain Brook sometime. They get after it. Pearl got a lot of quality minutes from this young man today. Here's hoping he has earned more time.
So our Tigers got a big win today in conference. Next up is a very good South Carolina, and their crazy lunatic of a coach Frank Martin. With him and Will Muschamp on campus, the F word will be flying around the Carolina athletic complex in the years to come.