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#8 Tennessee Vols takes on #22 Auburn in SEC Tournament Championship game

 

#8 Tennessee Vols (29-4 | 15-3 SEC) vs. #22 Auburn Tigers (25-9 | 11-7 SEC)

Sunday, March 17th, 2019 | 12:00pm CT
Nashville, TN | Bridgestone Arena | TV: ESPN

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsNashville, TN – For the second year in a row, the No. 8 Tennessee Vols has advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship Game. The Vols will take on No. 22 Auburn at 12:00pm CT at Bridgestone Arena.

The game will be televised on ESPN and can also be viewed online through WatchESPN. Fans can listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp describing the action.

Tennessee (29-4, 15-3 SEC) claimed the No. 3 seed in the tournament and earned a double bye.

Tennessee Men's Basketball plays Auburn Saturday in the SEC Tournament Championship game. (UT Athletics)

The Vols were one of the favorites to win the championship entering the weekend and have the opportunity to earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Big Orange rallied from down eight points in the final three minutes to defeat No. 4 Kentucky, 82-78, in the semifinals. UT defeated Mississippi State, 83-76, in the quarterfinals.

Earlier this week, Grant Williams became just the 10th player in conference history to win SEC Player of the Year in back-to-back season and was the first since Arkansas’ Corliss Williamson did so in 1994 and 1995. Williams was also tabbed first-team All-SEC after finishing the regular season as the top scorer in the SEC with 19.3 points per game. He has been one of the nation’s most versatile and reliable players this season, averaging 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

Senior wing Admiral Schofield earned first-team All-SEC recognition from the coaches after averaging 16.3 points per game, which ranked second on the team and fifth in the SEC, to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Jordan Bone rounded out the Vols’ All-SEC performers, earning a nod on the second team by both the coaches and the AP. The junior point guard led the SEC in assists per game (6.1), ranked second in assist/turnover ratio (3.0) and seventh in field-goal percentage (.475).

Auburn won the lone matchup between the two teams, 84-80, just one week ago. The Tigers are the No. 5 seed in the tournament and advanced to the championship game with wins over Missouri in the second round, South Carolina in the quarterfinals and Florida in the semifinals.

The Series

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Auburn, 78-40, dating to 1927.

The Vols have a 9-3 edge when the teams meet in the SEC Tournament and have won each of the last two meetings.

Auburn and Tennessee have never met in the SEC Tournament championship game.

 

A Win Would

Give Tennessee its fifth all-time SEC Tournament championship (1936, 1941, 1943 and 1979).

Give Tennessee 30 wins for just the second time in program history.

Give Rick Barnes his third 30-win season as a head coach.

Make the Vols 4-3 against ranked opponents this season.

Storylines

This year’s Vols have posted three wins over teams ranked in the AP top five. That ties the 1976-77 squad for the most wins over top-five opponents in a single season.

Two of Tennessee’s four losses this season have come in overtime, and all four were away from home against opponents who are currently ranked in the AP Top 25.

For the first time in program history, Tennessee has spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25.

The Vols will finish this season with no more than six losses.

Tennessee’s final average home attendance of 19,034 ranks fourth nationally.

Tennessee is 55-13 (.809) since the start of last season.

Against ranked opponents this season, All-SEC wing Admiral Schofield averages 20.5 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 43 percent.

About the Auburn Tigers

Narrowly missing a top-four seed and a double-bye, Auburn (25-9, 11-7 SEC) is one of the hottest teams in the country, winning nine of its last 10 games. The Tigers are competing in the SEC Tournament Championship Game for the first time since 2000.

Head coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers boast wins over Arizona, Washington and Xavier in non-conference play.

Auburn is led by its All-SEC duo in Bryce Brown (15.7 ppg, 1.9 apg, .401 3FG%) and Jared Harper (15.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, .387 3FG%). The two have combined for 204 of Auburn’s 381 3-pointers this season.

Another player to keep an eye on is sophomore Chuma Okeke. The 6-8 forward is averaging 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He has the ability to score at all three levels and is third on the team in 3-pointers, with 43. He had 22 points in the first game against the Vols on March 9th.

Auburn ranks third in the nation in 3-pointers made while also ranking fifth in threes per game (11.2) and shooting at a 37-percent clip from beyond the arc. The Tigers also excel at taking the ball away on defense, ranking fifth in the country in steals per game (9.2).

SEC Tournament History

Tennessee is 69-54 (.561) in 59 all-time SEC Tournament appearances.

The Vols own the second-best SEC Tournament winning percentage among league schools, trailing only Kentucky (.838) and Alabama (.558).

Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, the Vols are 34-39 (.466).

Tennessee has won the SEC Tournament four times, tying Florida for third-most among league schools. The Vols won the event in 1936, 1941, 1943 and 1979.

UT has reached the championship game 12 times (third-most among league schools), most recently last season in St. Louis.

Tennessee has been the No. 3 seed only once previously, and the Vols fell to sixth-seeded Ole Miss, 81-72, in the 1981 tournament in Birmingham.

This is the 10th time Nashville has hosted the SEC Tournament. UT is 13-9 in the tournament when it takes place in “The Music City.”

Tennessee’s SEC Tournament record at Bridgestone Arena is 9-7.

Rick Barnes In League Tourneys

Rick Barnes is 37-30 (.552) in conference tournament games as a head coach.

He led Providence to the Big East Tournament championship in 1994.

 

On Pace

Tennessee’s 1.68 assist/turnover ratio would stand as a single-season program record.

The Vols’ 82.3 points per game would rank fourth all-time in program history.

UT’s .762 free-throw percentage would rank second all-time in program history.

Jordan Bone’s 203 assists this season rank third on Tennessee’s all-time single-season list.

Grant Williams has broken Tennessee’s single-season record for free throws made by a junior. Williams has 204. Allan Houston previously held the record with 189 as a junior in 1991-92.

Tennessee Vols Win Total Among Program’s Best

Tennessee has recorded 29 wins for the second time in program history. This also is the first time the Vols have won at least 25 games in back-to-back seasons.
 
RECORD             SEASON              SEASON RESULT
31-5                      2007-08             NCAA Sweet Sixteen
29-3                      2018-19                        TBD
28-9                      2009-10                NCAA Elite Eight
26-9                      2017-18             NCAA Second Round
26-7                    1999-2000           NCAA Sweet Sixteen

 


Road Warriors

Dating to the start of last season, Tennessee has won 24 total games away from home.

That includes victories this year over Louisville, Gonzaga, Mississippi State and Kentucky (at neutral sites) as well as true road wins at Memphis, Missouri, Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.


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