With the way this game started, Auburn is lucky that the final score was only 10 points. Of course, by that same token, Tennessee is lucky that the game started the way that it did, which was the difference in the game.
The Vols jumped out to big leads early in this one, but Auburn battled back a few times thanks to the shooting of Jared Harper. Auburn only scored 30 points in the first half, and Harper had 18 of them. The freshman was just about Auburn's entire offense.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team was taking single shot possessions, rebounding poorly, and letting Tennessee connect on open shots time after time. The result was a 46 - 30 halftime lead.
The second half was a bit more of a contest, as Auburn battled back and at times looked like it may make an exciting game of it in last period. Every time it happened, though, UT would milk the clock and then drain a crushing basket to re-extend their lead.
In the end, the Tigers just didn't have enough for the Vols. It took too long for Auburn to adjust to the physicality of Tennessee and Rod and Sonny Smith were pointing out that in the first half it looked like Tennessee was playing a half step faster in every facet of the game.
For Auburn, the highlights of the night were Harper and Mustapha Heron - once again in the double-digits - along with Ronnie Johnson scoring. TJ Dunans had yet another game with few points but still played well with attempting to get the ball to the shooters. Auburn finished with only 7 assists on the night, though. Over the course of this season, the magic number for the Tigers seems to be 10. Get to 10 assists and they're almost assured a victory. Fail to do so and they're guaranteed a defeat.
This was a tough loss, but not a back-breaking one. If the course of the game had continued as it was going at the end of the first half, it very well could have been. The final result, however, was a bit more encouraging. The Tigers will attempt to take what they learned in this one and take it to Tuscaloosa this weekend to face an Alabama team that certainly wants revenge for the thrashing they suffered in Auburn two weeks ago.
The Tigers and the Tide will square off Saturday evening at 7:30pm. War Eagle!