Freshman guard Bryce Brown (above) shoots for the Tigers at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Knoxville, Tenn.--Auburn's basketball struggles continued on Tuesday night as the Tigers shot a season-low 23.7 percent from the field and scored a season-low points total in a 71-45 SEC loss to Tennessee.
With a sixth straight setback the Tigers are 9-14 overall and 3-8 in the SEC. Tennessee improved its record to 12-12 overall and 5-6 in league play.
Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers hit just 14-59 field goals. The three-point shooting was poor, too, as the Tigers made 5-26 and the free throw shooting was even worse as Auburn connected on just 12-24.
“I feel badly for our seniors,” said Pearl. “This is not good basketball. We are not representing Auburn well at all. It is certainly a major step back for the development of our program as far as being competitive. We were not at all competitive tonight.
“We got some good looks inside and we just couldn’t finish anything," ?he said. “Our game plan was to go inside. We went inside to Tyler (Harris), we went inside to Cinmeon (Bowers) and not as much to Horace (Spencer).” That trio made just five of 26 field goals.
Pearl added, “Sometimes you have got to be mentally tough, just not physically tough, and we lacked mental tougness...It’s really not physical--it’s mental in the sense that their confidence is really challenged, and why wouldn’t it be? And so I said. ‘Guys, if you played half as good as I think you are, we could be okay.’ It is clearly a difficult situation.”
Freshman guard Bryce Brown led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points. He was 4-8 from three-point range and 5-11 overall. "I think you continue to see Bryce's ability," Pearl said. "He has got talent. He can make plays and have 18 on the road at Tennessee.
"He shot the ball well," Pearl added. "Bryce can pass it better, he can play better defense, but Bryce Brown clearly belonged out there on the floor and played like he belonged out there on the floor. Not everybody else did at times. That is tough."
No other player scored in double figures for Auburn. Cinmeon Bowers finished with nine points and a game-leading 15 rebounds.
Robert Hubbs led Tennessee in scoring with 20 points while Devon Baulkman added 14 points and Detrick Mostella added 10 points as a reserve.
A slow shooting start to the first half followed by a slow shooting finish in the period put the Tigers behind 34-23 at halftime.
Auburn hit just one of its first 11 field goals and didn’t score until Bowers put two points on the board with 13:53 to play to make the score 9-2.
Auburn cut the lead to a single point on three occasions in the first half, but could never get on top. After hitting just 2-9 of their final shots in the period Tennessee was able to built the lead to 11 points at the break.
Halftime Numbers: The Tigers were 8-31 (25.8 percent) from the field, 4-16 on threes and 3-4 at the foul line. UT?hit 12-29 (41.4 percent) from the field, 5-15 threes and 5-7 free throws. UT’s Hubbs led all scorers at the break with 10 while Auburn’s Brown was next with nine points.
Auburn out-rebounded the Vols 22-20 in the first half and turned the ball over eight times, two more than the home team.
Jordon Granger, who is shown scoring on a dunk, finished the game with six points and four rebounds.
The second half picked up where the first half left off and the Vols steadily built their lead with the help of poor shooting from the visitors.
Tennessee stretched the lead to 52-31 at the 12:26 mark and led by as 33 points with 3:36 left in the game.
Auburn finished the game with 44 rebounds, four more than the Volunteers who hit 39.1 percent of their field goals, 7-24 three-pointers and 17-20 free throws. The Vols turned the ball over nine times, five fewer than Auburn.
Worth Noting, Part 1: Cinmeon Bowers continued to get playing time at point guard with Kareem Canty out for a second consecutive game due to a suspension. Bowers was 4-11 on field goals, 1-8 on free throws and finished with one assist and six turnovers.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Senior forward Tyler Harris, who is nursing a sore back, missed all 10 of his field goals and finished with two points. Pearl said that Harris "toughed it out" after having a shot in his back so he could play vs. the Vols. "You could see that it was really bothering him," the coach added. "Obviously, he just couldn't convert on the inside."
Stat of the Game: Not counting the horrible shooting numbers, a statistic that stood out was the Auburn bench was outscored 42-9.
Up Next: The Tigers will return to action with a 5 p.m. CST home game vs. Vanderbilt.