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#5 Tennessee at Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

One final home game for Bryce, Horace, Malik and Cole!! Let’s make it memorable one!

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday March 9th

Opponent: #5 Tennessee Volunteers - 27-3 (15-2)

Location: Auburn Arena

Time: 11AM

Network: ESPN, Auburn Radio Network

When Bryce Brown, Horace Spencer and Cole Blackstock came to campus, Auburn Basketball was an afterthought. When Malik Dunbar arrived 2 years ago, it was right before the start of something special. These 4 guys will play in their final home game today as Auburn welcomes the Tennessee Volunteers to Auburn to close out the regular season. Tennessee will look to win at least a share of the SEC Regular Season title while Auburn is looking for the final double bye in the SEC Tournament next week. Auburn needs to beat Tennessee and for Georgia to beat South Carolina for that to happen. If Auburn wins, and South Carolina wins, then the Tigers will be the #5 seed playing on Thursday. With a loss, Auburn could fall as far as a #7 seed with the potential of playing (gulp) Alabama in the first game if the Razorbacks beat Alabama today. With all of that said, let’s move on to Tennessee. We did a Q&A with SB Nation’s Rocky Top Talk yesterday if you want to read more about today’s game from a Tennessee perspective.

Get to Know Tennessee...

The Vols are an outstanding basketball team and this will be one of Auburn’s toughest challenges this year, especially in the paint. We have to start with junior forward and last year’s SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams (#2). Williams looks like he may repeat in winning that award this year although Kentucky’s P.J. Washington and LSU’s Tremont Waters may have a say in that. Williams leads the SEC averaging 19.1 points a game while also averaging 7.6 rebounds a game. He’s a good free throw shooter (83%) and shoots 34.2% from 3-point range. As a fan of college basketball, I’m excited to watch him play in person for the first time.

Next we have senior guard Admiral Schofield (#5), a tall guard at 6’6”, he’s 2nd on the team averaging 16.4 points a game. He’s been in double figures in all but 3 games this season and shoots 39.4% from 3-point range this year. Between Williams and Schofield, these two guys are going to be a handful for Auburn’s defense.

A very underrated portion of Tennessee’s team is their guard play. While Williams and Schofield get most of the headlines, the talent level of their guards doesn’t drop off much, if at all.

Junior guard (#0) Jordan Bone has had a terrific season nearly doubling his scoring average from 7.3 last year to 13.3 this year. Bone scored 27 points last Saturday against Kentucky and made all 5 3-pointers in that game. He didn’t make a 3 in 4 tries against Mississippi State on Tuesday but Bone’s a very capable 3-point shooter at 34.9% for the season.

Junior guard (#1) Lamonte Turner is a Florence, Alabama native averaging 10.6 points a game this year. He’s had back to back 4 point games and his numbers have been up and down this year so we’ll see what kind of game Turner has today.

Rounding out the starting lineup is senior forward (#11) Kyle Alexander, who’s 6’11” and averaging 7.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game this year.

Off the bench, Tennessee has an outstanding 6th man in junior guard (#23) Jordan Bowden. He’s averaging 10.3 points a game this season and put up his most points in a game in nearly a month scoring 12 points and 6 rebounds in their win over Mississippi State Tuesday.

Another player off the bench to take note of is sophomore forward (#10) John Fulkerson. Think of Horace Spencer and what he brings off the bench, particularly his energy. While averaging just 3.4 points a game, expect Fulkerson to play some big minutes for Tennessee in the paint.

What to Look for from Auburn...

Normally I tell you who to watch out for but I feel as today is Senior Day, it’s an opportunity to honor the seniors as they play their final game in Auburn Arena today.

Bryce Brown

Brown has 341 made 3-pointers, most in Auburn history and 5th most in the history of the SEC. He’s made 100 3s so far this season and is shooting 40% on the season from 3-point range. When Brown first came to campus, he was primarily a 3-point shooter but has developed on defense and he’s willing to take the ball into the paint much more than he was when he first got here. Brown was also one of the building blocks that’s helped this program to take off and his contributions won’t soon be forgotten by this writer. My hope is he has a game like he did in last year’s regular season finale today.

Horace Spencer

Horace Spencer will always be one of my favorite Auburn players, for his energy, defense and mostly, just his hustle on the court. Horace came in with Bryce Brown and made a big impact in his first collegiate game.

Horace has started at times but for the most part, he’s come off the bench and played well in his role. His energy is going to be greatly missed next year and these blocks as well.

Also, never, ever question Horace Spencer’s heart, especially after coming back into the Kentucky game earlier this year after being bloodied up moments earlier.

Malik Dunbar

I wasn’t really sure what to think when Auburn signed Dunbar last summer but man, he’s been a fun guy to watch these last 2 years. With his infectious personality, to his vicious dunks, to getting a moniker started by our own AU Chief, #ClassicMalik, I’m gonna miss this guy next year. Dunbar, like Spencer, have both given Auburn a bunch of needed energy off the bench this season. Auburn doesn’t beat UAB without either of these guys and Auburn doesn’t win the Alabama game without Malik this week.

Dunbar has had more of a role than I anticipated on this year’s team and he’s earned that based on the energy he always brings to the table. There are so many Malik dunks I can show here but I’ll show a 3-pointer and 2 of my favorite dunks.

Cole Blackstock

Auburn was able to put Cole on scholarship this past year and while walk-ons don’t get the love that most people do, they are just as important to a team as anyone else. And I think Cole is gonna do just fine, especially as a 4.0 student in the rigorous Auburn Engineering program.

This may be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen though.

Score Prediction

Alright, back to business. This game is going to come down to whether or not Auburn can contain Williams and Schofield, two of the best players Auburn may have played this year not named Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett. They also have to make 3-pointers tomorrow, plain and simple. Tennessee’s defense at times has struggled of late but the last week, they’ve held opponents in the 50s. That cannot happen today if Auburn wants to win this game.

I think this will be an outstanding college basketball game and all week, I’ve thought Auburn was going to find a way to protect their home court on senior day. Tennessee knows what’s at stake for them. They also know that Auburn beat them on their homecourt last year. It’s going to be a battle but in the end, I think Auburn gets this done in a game you and I won’t forget for a long time.

Auburn 83 Tennessee 79