Tennessee used an 18-3 run in the final nine minutes of the first half to defeat Auburn 64-49 in a defensive battle in Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday. The Tigers did not score a field goal in the final 9:42 of the opening period and missed 10 straight field goals and had five turnovers during the span.
"We didn't do either (rebound or shoot the ball well)," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "We defended well enough to win the game, but when you get outrebounded by 23 rebounds and you only shoot 30 percent from the floor on the road, you are not going to win many games ... on the road or at home.
"When they have one player (Jeronne Maymon), a 6-foot-7 player who is not real athletic and comes up with 19 rebounds and our three post players combined in Forbes, Chubb and Gabriel ... they don't come up with 19 combined, and he comes up with 19 by himself, it is hard to win that game."
Tennessee (10-11, 2-4) led 30-16 at the half despite shooting 34.4 percent from the field and 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Auburn shot 24 percent, went 1-of-6 from behind the arc and was outrebounded 26-17 in the opening period while being outscored 16-2 in the paint. The 16 points tied Auburn's season-low for a half at Florida State and at Vanderbilt.
Gabriel ended Auburn's dry spell by making a basket on the first field goal attempt 19 seconds into the second half and the Tigers cut the lead to 32-23 on a Chubb basket with 17:20 remaining. However, Auburn wouldn't get closer than that the rest of the way. STORY AD BEGINS HERE
Gabriel led Auburn with 13 points while Varez Ward had 12 points and Rob Chubb 10. Frankie Sullivan had five points and went 2-of-12 from the floor. Mayman led five Tennessee players in double figures with15 points and 19 rebounds. Trae Golden had 13 points, Skylar McBee had 12 points while both Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae added 11 points and six boards for the Vols.
Auburn held Tennessee to one field goal over seven plus minutes midway through the second half to close to within 42-33 with 7:39 remaining. The Vols withstood each Tiger mini-run and stretched the lead out to its largest at 64-44 with 1:07 left.
"Basically, we just got outrebounded and we didn't score enough points," said Gabriel. "We held them to 34 percent shooting and we shot 30 percent. We just have to find a way to make more plays on offense."
Tennessee manhandled Auburn on the boards, outrebounding the Tigers 53-30 and outscored the Tigers 26-12 in the paint.
Auburn held Tennessee to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor but the Tigers were only 30.4 percent. The Tigers were 5-of-16 from 3-point range and the Vols 4-of-20. The Tigers have now lost eight straight games in Knoxville and seven-straight to the Vols since winning in 1998.