The Tigers showed grit, moxie, and determination in winning their eleventh straight game tonight, this time over Tennessee in Knoxville by the score of 94-84. It’s Auburn’s first win in Knoxville in 20 years.
Auburn erased what was a fourteen-point deficit in the first half, as they trailed 23-9 and then 28-14 midway through the first half. Things seemed bleak when Desean Murray sat down with his third foul with seven minutes left in the opening frame, but the Tigers regrouped. Horace Spencer came in off the bench and scored two straight buckets, then three more baskets by Auburn tied the game at 30 with a little more than five minutes to play until halftime.
Bryce Brown’s three on Auburn’s next possession gave the Tigers a 33-30 lead, and then Spencer came to life again, hitting a layup and then a highlight dunk on an alley-oop lob from Bryce Brown. Spencer came from the right side of the bucket, and threw it down with one hand to give Auburn a 37-35 lead. Auburn finished the half on a 9-1 run and led 42-36 at the intermission.
To start the second half, both offenses came out hot in the first couple of minutes, with Grant Williams’ dunk putting the Vols on top 49-48 with fourteen minutes left. Near the midpoint of the second half, the fouls started to mount up for both teams, and the pace of the game slowed down, but Lamonte Turner’s three at the ten-minute mark gave UT a 57-54 edge and Thompson-Boling Arena came to life.
Down 59-54, Auburn got a pair of free throws from Mustapha Heron, and then three straight shots fell for Spencer, Brown, and Harper, and all of a sudden, Auburn led 62-61 with 7:24 to play. However, on Harper’s basket that gave Auburn the lead, he went to the floor in obvious pain, gripping his knee. Mustapha Heron picked up the slack in the immediate aftermath, bottoming a powerful dunk in transition as Auburn hit the double bonus with seven minutes to play.
Threes by both Bryce Brown and Chuma Okeke gave Auburn a 72-68 lead before Okeke went back-to-back as we hit the final timeout of the game with the Tigers on top 75-68. Brown’s fifth three followed a Davion Mitchell drive to the hoop and opened up the first double-digit lead for the Tigers at 80-68 with three minutes left.
Tennessee cut the lead down to just seven, but Okeke’s third three of the second half put the lead back at ten with 90 seconds left in the game. With 1:18 left, Tennessee began to foul, and the Tigers salted the game away at the foul line.
Bryce Brown finished with 18 points to lead Auburn, including five three-pointers. Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron each scored 16, and Chuma Okeke came off the bench with his huge second half to score 11, while Horace Spencer added 10. Auburn improves to 13-1 overall, 1-0 in the SEC, and adds another notch to the winning streak, which now stands at eleven straight.
Auburn will face off against Arkansas this coming Saturday back home at Auburn Arena, with tipoff set for 5 pm CST on ESPNU.