Tigers Can't Rebound for Road Victory

After a close loss on the road Wednesday at Arkansas, the Tigers fell by 15 points vs. Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville.

Knoxville, Tenn.--Tennessee dominated the boards and Auburn struggled with its shooting as the Vols defeated the Tigers 64-49 on Saturday evening in an SEC basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee enjoyed a 53-30 rebounding advantage as Jeronne Maymon pulled in 19 rebounds to go with a team-high 15 points for the Vols.

Auburn made just 17-56 field goals to finish at 30.4 percent from the field. The Vols weren't much better, hitting 34.5 percent from the field, but the rebounding advantage was too much for the visitors to overcome.

Auburn went through multiple cold shooting streaks. The big one was in the last half of the opening 20 minutes. Auburn did not make a field goal during the final nine minutes and 46 seconds before intermission as the Vols outscored the Tigers 18-3 to change a one-point Auburn advantage into a 14-point UT lead at the break.

Auburn warmed up slightly in the second half, but never enough to seriously threaten the home team. The Tigers cut the margin to 42-33 with 7:39 to play, but a 15-8 UT run iced the game.

With the loss the Tigers fell to 12-9 overall and 2-5 in the SEC. Tennessee improved to 10-11 overall and 2-4 in the conference.

Varez Ward was able to bounce back from his bruised quad he suffered on Wednesday vs. Arkansas. He played 28 minutes and scored 12 points while adding five rebounds and one assist. The sophomore had just one turnover.

Varez Ward shoots inside against Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon.

Kenny Gabriel led the Tigers in scoring with 13 points and added five rebounds. Rob Chubb tied for the team lead in rebounds with five and scored 10 points.

The rest of the Auburn team managed just a dozen points led by five from Frankie Sullivan, who hit just 2-12 field goals.

Auburn was 5-16 on threes while the Vols hit 4-20. Auburn tried fouling late in the game, but that strategy got them nowhere as UT hit 20-25 free throws while Auburn made 10-15.

"When they have one player, a 6-7 center who is not real athletic who comes up with 19 rebounds and our three post players combined--(Adrian) Forbes, Chubb and Gabriel--don't come up with 19 combined, it is hard to win that game," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said.

"It is embarrassing," Barbee said of the rebounding margin. "We have been a physical team all year...but we got out-toughed today. It is disappointing.

"Toughness also rears its head offensively," Barbee said. "You have to be a tough joker to go on the road and be a good offensive player individually and step up and make shots when you get your opportunity."

Starters: Kenny Gabriel, Rob Chubb, Allen Payne, Josh Wallace and Frankie Sullivan.

No Go: Josh Langford, who suffered a blow to the head vs. Arkansas on Wednesday, did not play vs. the Vols due to a concussion. He was not allowed to travel to Knoxville.

Barbee said he was pleased that Ward was able to bounce back and play so quickly after being hurt on Wednesday night.

Varez Ward played 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday vs. Tennessee.

First Noel three: Transfer Noel Johnson, who has been limited by a wrist injury, hit his first three-pointer of the season with 10:18 left in the game. "He is kind of healthy," Barbee said. "It was good to get him some extended minutes so we can see what he can do. I thought he had the best grasp of the offense that he has shown.

Noel Johnson

Johnson, who was 1-4 from the field, finished with three points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time. "I thought he did some good things defensively," the coach added.

At the Half: The Tigers trailed 30-16 as they hit just 6-25 field goals for 24 percent. Tennessee didn't shoot well either, but got off seven more field goals and made five more than Auburn did to finish the first half shooting 34.2 percent. Auburn was 1-6 on threes and 3-7 at the foul line while Tennessee hit 2-10 threes and 6-7 free throws.

A key statistic at the break was Tennessee's 26-17 edge in rebounds. The Vols helped their cause with just four first half turnovers compared to seven for the Tigers. Tennessee was effective close in, dominating points in the paint 16-2 in the opening 20 minutes.

Inside Trouble: Auburn was dominated 26-12 for points in the paint. A big reason for that is that the Tigers had just five offensive rebounds in the game while Tennessee finished with 15.

Advantage, Vols: Tennessee also helped its cause with just 10 turnovers, three less than the Tigers.

Up Next: The Tigers will take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Auburn Arena.

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