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HomeSports#25 Tennessee Vols Basketball travels to Auburn, Saturday

#25 Tennessee Vols Basketball travels to Auburn, Saturday

#23/NR Tennessee (16-6 | 9-6 SEC) at Auburn (11-13 | 5-10 SEC)

Saturday, February 27th, 2021 | 11:01am CT/12:01pm ET
Auburn, AL | Auburn Arena | TV: ESPN

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsAuburn, AL – The No. 25 Tennessee men’s basketball team returns to action for a Saturday afternoon road contest with Auburn. Tipoff from Auburn Arena is slated for 11:00am CT on ESPN.

Fans can see Saturday’s game on ESPN and online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN on the ESPN App. WatchESPN can be accessed online at espn.com/watch. Beth Mowens and Dalen Cuff will have the call.

Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate to hear Bob Kesling and Bert Bertlekamp describing the action.

Tennessee Men's Basketball is on the road Saturday to take on Auburn. (UT Athletics)
Tennessee Men’s Basketball is on the road Saturday to take on Auburn. (UT Athletics)

Last time out, Tennessee took down Vanderbilt for the eighth consecutive time on Wednesday night, downing the Commodores, 70-58, in Nashville.

The UT Vols were led in scoring for the third consecutive game by junior guard Victor Bailey Jr. who finished the night with a game-high 21 points.

A win on Saturday would snap Auburn’s five-game win streak in the series and ensure that the Vols finish the year with a winning record in true road games.

The Series

Tennessee leads its all-time series with Auburn, 78-43, dating to 1927.

The Tigers hold a 29-23 advantage when the series is contested in Auburn. The Vols have lost their last two games at Auburn Arena.

Saturday marks the only regular-season meeting between the Vols and Tigers.

In SEC play, Auburn boasts the third-highest scoring offense in the league (79.5 ppg), while the Vols own the league’s second-best scoring defense (66.5 ppg).

A Win Would

Snap Auburn’s five-game win streak in this series.

Ensure that the Vols finish the regular season with a winning record in true road games.

Layup Lines

Victor Bailey Jr. has scored 68 points over the last three games (22.6 ppg) and has made 16 total 3-pointers during that span.

Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year Yves Pons is one of 10 finalists for the Naismith Men’s National Defensive Player of the Year, it was announced Thursday.

Sophomore Josiah-Jordan James returned to play 28 minutes Wednesday at Vanderbilt after a two-game injury absence (wrist).

 


 

The true freshman duo of Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer have accounted for 42.3 percent of Tennessee’s scoring over the last six games.

Springer has scored 20 or more points in four of the last six games.

Tennessee is the only team in the SEC with three players who have scored 27 or more points in a game this season—Jaden Springer (30), Victor Bailey Jr. (29) and Keon Johnson (27).

Defense Wins

According to KenPom, the Vols rank third in the NCAA in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing only 88.1 points per 100 possessions. College teams typically average close to 70 possessions per game.

Tennessee ranks 20th in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 62.5 points per game.

The Vols are forcing 15.8 turnovers per game and converting those turnovers into 17.5 points per game.

Tennessee has forced 16 of 22 opponents to turn the ball over on 20 percent or more of their possessions. The Vols are forcing opponents to turn it over 23.0 percent of the time this season.

In SEC play, Tennessee has led the league in turnover margin all season (currently +2.8 per game).

Only once this season has a Tennessee opponent scored 80 or more points. That was Georgia, in a game the Vols won, 89-81, on February 10th.

 


About the Auburn Tigers

Entering the 2020-21 season, Auburn self-imposed a postseason ban, meaning that the Tigers’ matchups with the Vols on Saturday and Alabama on Tuesday will conclude their season.

Despite the early postseason decision, Auburn has felt very few effects from COVID-19, having just one game postponed/canceled. Through 24 games, the Tigers hold an 11-13 overall record and a mark of 5-10 in conference play. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, Auburn has dropped its last three games, falling to Kentucky (82-80), LSU (104-80) and Florida (74-57).

A bright spot for the Tigers has been the emergence of freshman standout, Sharife Cooper. In just 12 appearances, Cooper is averaging a team-leading 20.2 points and 8.1 assists. While he ranks third on the team in total points with 242, he already leads the team in total assists with 97 helpers.

Outside of Cooper, the do-it-all guy for Auburn this season has been Allen Flanigan. Flanigan currently ranks second on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg) and first in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and steals (1.0 spg). He ranks 17th in the SEC in scoring, while his rebounding average sits just outside the conference’s top 20.

Sophomore Jaylin Williams has been the Tigers’ leader in the frontcourt, ranking third on the team in scoring (10.7 ppg) and second in rebounding with 4.9 boards per contest, while starting in all 24 games and playing an average of 26.1 minutes.

Auburn’s colors of orange and blue were chosen by its first head football coach, Dr. George Petrie. He chose the colors based on those of his own alma mater, the University of Virginia. Dr. Petrie became the first Alabamian to earn a Ph.D. degree and held a number of roles at Auburn before organizing the football team in 1892.

 


Tennessee’s Last Game Against Auburn

A 19-point outing from Vols junior John Fulkerson led the way for Tennessee on March 7th, 2020, as UT fell to 17th-ranked Auburn, 85-63.

Seniors Jordan Bowden and Lamonté Turner took part in a pregame Senior Day ceremony. Turner’s UT career ended prematurely in December due to injury. Bowden finished with 17 points and a game-high four assists.

Fulkerson added seven rebounds and one block to his stat line while going 9-for-13 from the free-throw line. The All-SEC candidate scored 15 or more points in six of UT’s final seven games.

Freshman Santiago Vescovi scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. The true freshman scored in double figures in all but one SEC home game on the year.

The Tigers’ 3-point shooting helped them combat the momentum the Vols built during a stretch run of the second half. Their 14 makes were the most by a Tennessee opponent all season.

Fulkerson scored 13 of the Vols’ first 23 points. His hot start consisted of making four of his five field-goal attempts in the first half.

Tennessee opened the game with feisty defense, as the fast-paced contest began in back-and-forth fashion. With the Vols trailing by seven points, Jalen Johnson connected on a key 3-point attempt. Bowden later knocked down a triple to beat the halftime buzzer and cut the Tennessee deficit to 11 heading into the break, 42-31.

Auburn used an 8-0 run to increase its lead to 17 early in the second half, but Tennessee’s response came quickly and furiously. The Big Orange proceeded to outscore the Tigers 14-3 over the ensuing 1:49, with Vescovi accounting for two 3-point makes during the run.

The Vols battled the Tigers down the stretch, cutting the deficit to 10 with just under five minutes remaining, but could not take the lead.

Samir Doughty led the way for Auburn with 32 points behind eight made 3-pointers.

With the loss, Tennessee finished eighth in the SEC standings with a 9-9 record.

Memorable Tennessee Performances Against Auburn

Carl Widseth made a then-school-record 17 free throws on The Plains against the Tigers en route to another school record, 47 points, on February 25th, 1956, in a 91-87 Tennessee triumph.

Dalen Showalter recorded a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds as the unranked Vols upset No. 2 Auburn, 56-55, at UT’s Armory Fieldhouse on February 23rd, 1959.

Playing a team four times in a calendar year is rare. In 1979, UT played a home-and-home series with Auburn. They met again in the 1979 SEC Tournament. The first game of the 1979-80 series was played in December. The Vols were 4-0 vs. Auburn in 1979 (February 2nd & 7th, March 2nd, December 12th).

Tony White broke UT’s single-game scoring record with 51 points against the Tigers in Stokely Athletics Center on Valentine’s Day 1987. UT won 103-84.

Road Warriors

Dating to the start of the 2017-18 season, Tennessee has won more than half of its true road games during SEC play, going 19-15 (.559).

This season, the Vols have road wins at Missouri, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Victory Bailey Jr. Riding A Hot Streak

From a scoring standpoint, junior guard Victor Bailey Jr. is riding the best three-game stretch of his career—68 total points (22.7 ppg). He scored a career-high 29 vs. South Carolina Feb. 17 and followed that with 18 against Kentucky February 20th and 21st at Vanderbilt Wednesday.

He has scored 31 percent of the Vols’ total points over the last three games (68 of 218).

Bailey made 12 total 3-pointers in Tennessee’s first 12 SEC games. But he has made 16 treys over the last three SEC outings.

Bailey was UT’s top scorers in each of the last three games. On the season, he has led the Vols in scoring a team-high eight times.

Yves Pons Vying For National D-Player of the Year

Yves Pons on February 25th was named one of 10 finalists for the Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Pons is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and he also was a top-10 finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.

Pons’ plus/minus rating is +8.1 per game this season. He leads the Vols and ranks fifth in the SEC with 1.9 blocks per game during SEC play.

He has a career-best 14 steals this season, and he ranks second on the team with eight charges drawn.

There is no position on the court—no opposing player—that Pons is incapable of guarding effectively.

Next Up For Tennessee Men’s Basketball

The Tennessee Vols basketball team concludes its regular season slate with a senior day home matchup with Florida on Sunday, March 7th. A tip time and broadcast info for that game are still to be determined.

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