The No. 22 Auburn women went into arguably the most hostile environment in the SEC, if not the country, and fell to the Lady Vols 85-52 at Thompson-Boling Arena. This matchup featured the SEC's leading scorers, Tennessee's Candace Parker and Auburn's DeWanna Bonner. Tennessee came into the game ranked second in the country and boasting a 11-1 record. The Lady Vols had not lost a home game to Auburn since Jan. 9, 1988, which is only one of 17 games Tennessee has ever lost in Thompson-Boling Arena since it started playing there in the 1987-88 season. Parker recorded her 37th career double-double in the win with 18 points and 10 rebounds while sitting for most of the second half.
Auburn started out scoring the first six points of the game before Nicky Anosike made two free throws to put the Lady Vols on the board. After that, Auburn saw its lead slip away as Tennessee made up the difference on its way to a 19-0 run.
Anosike was a large part of Tennessee's success early on both ends of the floor scoring nine of its first 12 points and picking up a key steal. Bonner scored eight of Auburn's first ten on her way to another big game and 19 points.
Tennessee took a 16 point lead with 9:24 remaining in the first half. Turnovers and fouls were deadly for the Auburn Tigers as the Lady Vols were able to capitalize on several early mistakes by Auburn. Anosike gave Auburn problems all night scoring 20 and getting 12 rebounds.
Auburn cut the lead to 10 points, but then Tennessee jumped out to a 19 point lead with 4:40 left in the first half after nine straight points. The first half ended with Auburn looking winded. Auburn went into halftime down 21 having turned the ball over 13 times.
Tennessee was led in scoring in the first half by Anosike (13 points) and Parker (12 points) while only Bonner hit double-figures in first half points for the Tigers with 13 points. Both teams shot over 40 percent in the first half, but it was Tennessee's ability to score off of Auburn's turnovers that made the difference early.
The second half started out with Auburn getting a heavy dose of Parker and company. Auburn continued to turn the ball over, with three of its first four possessions ending with Tennessee running the other way with the basketball. Tennessee went on an 10-0 run to open the second half and opened up a 31 point lead.
Auburn would continue to play hard, cutting the Tennessee lead to under 30 several times in the second half, but that would be as close as it would get as the Lady Vols continued to pull away from the Tigers. The trio of Anosike, Parker and Alexis Hornbuckle showed why Tennessee is known for its defense. The Tigers were smothered by Tennessee' s press all night and could not figure out the mix of zone and man-to-man that they were seeing.
"It was disappointing, the second half was not pretty at all," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. "We didn't execute well or rebound or keep them off the boards. We didn't make good decisions and we had a hard time shooting the ball. you have to have shots drop to stay in ball games."
Auburn was out-rebounded 47 to 32 and the Tigers defense could not find an answer for the talented team from Tennessee. Tennessee dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 20 boards. There were some bright spots for the Tigers as Trevesha Jackson continued to play well and improve while the Tigers tried to play without guard Whitney Boddie.
"We didn't have much positive going on out there," Fortner said. "They are long-limbed and we didn't get many breaks, but we have to make those for ourselves. We don't have time to rest because we have Georgia coming up. We have to do some work offensively."
Auburn falls to 12-4 on the year and 169-87 all time in the month of January. This was the first time that Auburn had lost by more than two points all season.