Tennessee was too big, too strong and too tough inside for Barbee's Tigers to deal with, but the Auburn head coach was more concerned about what he saw from his team.
"It was a matter of two different level of programs right now," Barbee said. "I?thought we played scared tonight. Why you would be scared of another college player? I don't care reputation, how good, rank or whatever, I really don't care. How could you be scared? That is how we played--not everybody, but we had a majority of guys who played scared and that is unacceptable.
"Tennessee is a good team," Barbee added. "They are huge. The big guys are really good and they overwhelmed us on the backboard tonight. That is where we lost the game."
Auburn played well defensively in its last three games, but that wasn't the case vs. the Vols, Barbee said. "When you are afraid of somebody you get tentative and they took it right at us," he pointed out.
The Tigers played without their starting center, Rob Chubb, who Barbee said is suspended indefinitely for violation of unspecified team rules. "I am disappointed in Rob," said Barbee, who noted the sophomore is suspended from all team activities. He was not on the bench Thursday night.
"We were starting to gain a nice rhythm with Rob in the hole and he was starting to become an offensive threat," Barbee said of the player who scored 18 points on Saturday vs. South Carolina. "Not having that tonight was a big hole."
Barbee said Chubb was missed for his defensive play inside and improving skills on offense. He wasn't missed as a rebounder, Barbee added. "It is not like he is a dominant rebounder," the coach said.
The Tigers were out-rebounded 38-24 in the game. The other key statistic was foul shooting. The Tigers made just 10-20 and the Vols made 19-24 as they were able to pound the ball inside and draw fouls.
The turnovers were almost even with the Tigers having 14, one more than the Vols.
Auburn hit 43.1 percent of its shots and was 2-13 on threes. The Vols made 45.1 percent of their shots and were 4-19 on threes.
Allen Payne led the Tigers with 13 points and seven rebounds. "It is very disappointing as a team," the freshman guard said of his team's performance to fall to 8-14 overall and 1-7 in the SEC. "We felt like we had some confidence, especially after getting a win in the SEC on the road. That was big, especially the way we have been struggling in conference play on the road.
"Just to come out flat, almost the total opposite of what we did at South Carolina, the word I would use is disappointing, Payne added. He said it was particularly disappointing to lose like the Tigers did when the Vols did not have their best player, Scotty Hopson.
Tennessee's domination of the boards put the Tigers in a deep hole at halftime trailing 37-24 on the scoreboard as the Vols enjoyed a 21-7 edge in rebounds.
The Vols helped their cause with solid shooting, hitting and even 50 percent from the field and 10-10 at the foul line in the first 20 minutes while the home team hit just 10-26 field goals (38.5 percent) and 2-4 foul shots.
Brian Williams did a lot of the damage in the first half as the UT big man scored 12 points and added six rebounds by the break, almost single-handedly matching Auburn's total.
The Tigers never made a serious run at the Vols in the second half. Williams led Tennessee with 15 points and eight rebounds while Cameron Tatum added 15 points and seven boards. Tobia Harris contributed 14 points and five rebounds.
Freshman Josh Langford scores for the Tigers.
The Tigers return to action at 12:30 p.m. CST at Georgia.