Wendell Green Jr. scored 24 points and Johni Broome added 17 as host Auburn posted a resume-enhancing 79-70 victory over No. 12 Tennessee in a key Southeastern Conference matchup Saturday afternoon.
Green scored seven points in the final 1:37 of the game as the Tigers (20-11, 10-8 SEC) finished the game on a 17-7 run to spoil Tennessee’s opportunity to clinch a double-bye in the upcoming SEC tournament.
The loss for the Volunteers (22-9, 11-7) opened the way for Missouri and/or Vanderbilt to move into the No. 4 spot depending the results of their games Saturday night.
Santiago Vescovi led Tennessee with 21 points. Freshman Tobe Awaka had 10 boards to help the Vols to a 35-29 rebounding advantage.
Tyreke Key scored 13 points and Julian Phillips and Josiah-Jordan James had 10 each for the Vols, while Allen Flanigan with 16 and Jaylin Williams with 13 also were in double figures for the Tigers.
The Tigers made up for the rebounding deficit and 13-5 Tennessee advantage in second-chance points by outscoring the Vols 21-4 in points off turnovers and 15-0 in fast-break points.
Auburn overcame a four-point halftime deficit to establish a pair of six-point leads, the last at 56-50 just past the midpoint of the second period before Vescovi hit a 3-pointer to cap a 9-2 spurt for a 59-58 Tennessee lead with 7:32 remaining in the game.
The two teams swapped the lead three times before the Tigers went on a 9-0 run for a 69-63 bulge with 3:14 remaining, and Green’s layup and free throw gave the Tigers a 72-64 lead with 1:37 on the clock.
The Vols used 50-percent shooting and 5-of-8 success from 3-point range to build a 34-30 lead at the halftime break. They were looking at their biggest lead of the first half until Green hit a corner-3 off an in-bounds pass at the buzzer for Auburn’s only field goal in the last 4:08 of the period.
The Tigers the opened the second half with two quick baskets to tie it at 34-34 less than a minute in.
–Field Level Media