Barber helped the Tigers control the boards. Auburn out-rebounded the Volunteers 34-21. That translated into the Tigers outscoring Tennessee 19-2 on second-chance points with a 14-4 advantage in offensive rebounds against the number one offensive rebounding team in the SEC.
Offensive rebounding was Auburn's downfall in a loss on Wednesday at Ole Miss, the worst performance by the Tigers this season.
"We showed a lot of maturity coming off a big loss to Ole Miss," said Barber, who added that the Tigers played like a "bunch of bums" in their road loss to Ole Miss.
The victory improved Auburn's record to 14-9 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. UT fell to 14-8 overall and 5-3 in the SEC.
Barber was 8-8 from the field and added eight rebounds in 31 minutes. Barrett hit 12-19 field goals and added seven points for the Tigers.
"We were active on the glass and we spread them out, too, and we had long shots and long rebounds," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "They shot such a high percentage they only missed 20 shots so they got four offensive rebounds off those 20 misses.
"They are the best offensive rebounding team coming in," Lebo added. "I thought Lucas (Hargrove) did a great job offensive rebounding and Rasheem made an unbelievable offensive rebound at the end. It was a great effort play to keep it alive."
Auburn trailed 77-76 when Hargrove was fouled while shooting with 16 seconds left. His shot just rolled off the rim. He then missed both of his foul shots, but Barrett got the rebound in traffic and Auburn called a timeout with 12.9 seconds.
"Once I saw that ball come off the rim, I said, ‘It's do or die.' We are not going to lose this game."
Tennessee did a good job on defending the in-bounds pass from the baseline. A long in-bounds pass appeared to be trouble for the Tigers, but Tay Waller came up with the ball and dribbled toward the basket. Instead of shooting he saw his old high school teammate, Barber, open near the basket and Barber made the catch and the basket to end the scoring.
"Tay made a good pass and I was able to finish it off," Barber said. Waller had hit a three-pointer to put Auburn ahead 76-75 with 1:09 left after a good pass from Hargrove. However, UT regained the lead as Tyler Smith scored inside with 38 seconds left. Smith led UT in scoring with 21 points.
Waller then made the big assist to Barber to win the game. "I thought Tay Waller was really under control," Lebo said. "I thought he was going to jack one up. He did a great job of finding Vot like he did in high school."
That capped an impressive performance for Barber, who UT coach Bruce Pearl noted gave his players trouble as the Vols played man-to-man defense.
"I am a lot quicker than most of the big men in the SEC so it makes it kind of easy on me and the guards," he said.
Pearl said Auburn's quickness was evident. "They beat us to a lot of 50-50 balls," the coach said. "We showed a lot of tape of them beating people repeatedly to the 50-50 balls."
Pearl also told the Vols the key to beating Auburn was to win the rebounding battle. "They are 1-7 when they are out-rebounded and 13-2 when they out-rebound their opponent," the UT coach said.
Pearl added, "I thought Auburn deserved it. I thought they played hard and did a lot of good things. We didn't defend their front line very well at all."
However, he added the setback was "our most disappointing loss" because of the opponent. "Every other loss we have is against a guaranteed NCAA Tournament team," he said. "Right now, Auburn isn't.
Coach Bruce Pearl
Pearl added the fact that the Vols had a chance to win the game until the very end also made it a tough pill to swallow.
"This is a very big win," Auburn's Barrett said. "Tennessee, last year, they beat us pretty good. We played with a lot of emotion in the game."
With a crowd of 6,321 watching, Auburn came out hot offensively. The Tigers scored on 10 of their first 13 possessions.
"I thought it was a heck of a basketball game," said Lebo. "It was a great game to watch if you are a fan. It was back and forth. Nobody could seem to stop anybody else.
"I thought our kids played with a lot of energy, enthusiasm and some toughness. I didn't think we competed as hard as we needed to at Ole Miss...I thought our seniors were unbelievable today."
Lebo was fired up about his team's rebounding and the play of Barrett. "Rasheem was terrific the entire game," the coach said.
Lebo also liked the way Barber played. "He was unbelievable in there," the coach stated. "It was the first time, I think, in a long time I have really seen him demand the ball," he said, noting 21 points and eight rebounds is a strong effort with no missed field goals while making 5-8 free throws with two assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes.
Both teams shot the ball very well. The Vols made 59.2 percent of their field goals and 9-23 treys.
Auburn hit 53.7 percent of its field goals and 5-19 threes. The Tigers were 15-24 at the foul line and UT hit 10-17
Auburn came out hot shooting the ball getting good looks against the UT man-to-man defense.
At the first timeout at the 15:11 mark, the Tigers led 15-6, which was the largest margin of the first half during which the Vols never led. However, at intermission the Tigers were up just 43-41.
Both teams shot well the first half. Tennessee hit 60 percent of its field goals, including a sizzling 7-12 of its threes. Auburn made just 2-11 threes, but was an even 50 percent from the field.
The Tigers got nine more shots from the field in the first half thanks to just two turnovers and a plus three rebound margin in the first 20 minutes that featured 18 points from Barrett, who was 9-12 from the field at halftime.
UT tied the game in the opening seconds of the second half at 43-43. The Vols took their first lead at the 15:25 mark at 53-52 on a three-point jumper by Scotty Hopson, who scored 14.
UT built the lead to six points, but Auburn pulled ahead 65-64 at the 9:15 mark on a four-point trip with two DeWayne Reed free throws on a intentional foul on Brian Williams and two more free throws by Barber on another foul by Williams.
The game stayed close the rest of the way setting the stage for the game-winning shot by Barber.
Auburn got 11 points from Reed and 10 from Hargrove, who added seven rebounds.
Game Notes: For the first time in his Auburn career, Quantez Robertson did not start due to arriving late for the pre-game. The senior guard had started 112 consecutive games prior to Saturday. Lebo said Robertson arrived late after getting a haircut on Saturday morning. Lebo requires the players to arrive at the arena one hour and 45 minutes before the tipoff. "I don't care about starting," Robertson said. "I care about winning and helping our team get the W. The minutes I did play, I did all I could to help our team get the W." Robertson played nine minutes and scored one point and added a rebound...The halftime show, "Quick Change," drew a standing ovation from the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum crowd...Junior forward Johnnie Lett is still out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He was on crutches Saturday and will be re-evaluated on Sunday...Auburn returns to action on Wednesday night with a 7 o'clock home game vs. Arkansas.