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Tennessee at Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn looks to make it 6 in a row against the Vols!

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday February 27, 2021

Tennessee Volunteers at Auburn Tigers

Auburn Arena

Time: 11AM

Network: ESPN

It’s been a tough season on so many levels for Auburn but how sweet would it be to knock one of your biggest rivals over the past few years?

Auburn hosts Tennessee this morning as Auburn has won 5 in a row in the series. Auburn’s win in Knoxville back in 2018 was a program changer as it set Auburn on a course towards a Regular Season Championship. In 2019, Auburn denied Tennessee a SEC Championship not once, but twice. Last year, Jaylin Williams took center stage and then Samir Doughty put on a show for the ages before the sports world as we knew it changed days later.

So what will happen today?

Get to Know Tennessee

Tennessee was picked by many to win the SEC this season and they are one of the stingiest defenses in College Basketball. They have had their issues offensively this season though but their scoring is balanced as 7 guys average between 8.5 and 12.4 PPG this season. Tennessee comes into today’s game at 16-6 (9-6) on the season. They allow just 62.5 PPG while scoring 72.8 PPG this season. They’ve played several games in the 50s and 60s throughout the season.

Freshmen guard Jaden Springer (#11) was a top 20 recruit coming out of IMG Academy and is the Vols leading scorer at 12.4 PPG.

Redshirt junior Victor Bailey Jr. (#12) is 2nd on the team averaging 11.4 PPG this season. The Oregon transfer has started in the last 3 games and has averaged 22.7 PPG in those games for Tennessee. Bailey shoots 37.4% from 3-point range.

Freshmen guard Keon Johnson (#45) comes in averaging 10.1 PPG this season. Johnson was a top 30 prospect coming out of high school last season.

The next two guys are players Auburn fans should be familiar with as next up in the scoring list is senior forward John Fulkerson (#10). He is averaging 9.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG this season.

Senior guard Yves Pons (#35) is one of the best defenders in college basketball. Pons averages 9 PPG, 5 RPG and leads the team in blocked shots.

Sophomore guard Josiah-Jordan James (#5) was Tennessee’s first McDonald’s All-American since Tobias Harris when he arrived in Knoxville last season. This season, he is averaging 8.6 PPG and leads the team averaging 6 RPG.

Lastly, sophomore guard Santiago Vescovi (#25) had a major impact arriving during the middle of last season. This season, he is averaging 8.5 PPG, 4 RPG and leads the team in assists. He’s also shooting 37.3% from 3 this season.

Keys for Auburn

Coach Pearl announced on Friday that Sharife Cooper was doubtful for today’s game but he has made progress since spraining his ankle on Sunday in practice. The offensive struggles without Cooper were very evident Tuesday night against Florida as Auburn struggled to score and dug too deep of a hole against the Gators. I think a strong start will be critical in this game. If they can hang in there early, it gives them a chance. This is a game Allen Flanigan needs to step up and have a big game. It’s likely he will be running the point in this one as well.

Last year’s Tennessee game in Auburn Arena was a breakout performance from Jaylin Williams. Never forget....

It won’t be easy going up against Fulkerson and Pons but a big game from Jaylin feels necessary if Auburn wants to win this one.

Prediction

If Sharife was playing in this one, I would feel much better picking the upset in this one but with the way Auburn’s offense looked on Tuesday night and knowing what’s ahead of them today, who’s going to be the go-to guy for Auburn? I’m just not sure who that’s going to be. Tennessee is in the running for a double bye and you know they’ve had this game circled on the calendar after losing 5 straight to Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. I’ve picked against Auburn a lot lately but it’s Tennessee and for some reason, the Vols bring the best out in Auburn and I just feel like Barning Hard today for a change.

Auburn 69 Tennessee 66