Auburn, whose tallest starter is 6-5, neutralized its size disadvantage by double-teaming the ball whenever Tennessee got it inside. As a result, the Vols' 6-10 Major Wingate attempted just two field goal tries all game.
With the Tigers clogging the middle, Tennessee had plenty of shots from the perimeter. Unfortunately for the Vols, they couldn't hit them. Scooter McFadgon, mired in an awful slump, hit just 5 of 19 shots. Backcourt mate Chris Lofton also struggled, hitting just 1 of 5 attempts. Thus, the Vols' top two outside threats combined to make just 6 of 24 shots (25 percent).
With McFadgon and Lofton struggling, UT got most of its offense from point guard C.J. Watson, who led all scorers with 17 points. McFadgon added 14, despite his awful shooting percentage.
The Vols have now lost three games in a row. They take a 10-10 overall record and a 3-4 SEC mark to face Vanderbilt Wednesday night in Nashville. The Commodores beat UT 88-63 in the earlier game at Knoxville.
Auburn improves to 10-9 overall and 1-5 in league play.
Tennessee started fast, holding the homestanding Tigers without a point for nearly six minutes en route to a 9-0 lead. Auburn rallied to tie at 11-all, however. Tennessee surged ahead 21-13 but the Tigers pulled even at 28-28 by halftime.
The Vols shot a horrendous 31 percent from the field (6 of 19) in the first half.
Auburn took its first lead of the game at 31-30 on a 3-pointer by Nathan Watson with 18:44 remaining. With 8:51 to go, Wingate was called for goaltending on a rebound dunk, and UT coach Buzz Peterson protested so vehemently he was hit with a technical foul. Auburn's technical free throws put the Tigers on top by six (51-45).
Tennessee pulled even at 51-all on a Watson jumper, two Watson free throws and an Andre Patterson putback with 3:10 remaining. Auburn scored the game's next seven points, however, as Tennessee self-destructed.
Quinnel Brown scored on a drive, giving the Tigers a 53-51 lead with 2:40 left. A crosscourt pass by Wingate was intercepted by Watson and turned into a layup and a 55-51 lead with 1:35 remaining. Wingate had a shot blocked on the ensuing possession, then Brown put the dagger in Tennessee's heart with a 3-pointer that boosted the lead to 58-51 with 47 seconds left.
McFadgon hit a pair of free throws and Lofton hit his only field goal of the game -- a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left -- but Auburn hit just enough free throws down the stretch to hold on. McFadgon sank a 3 with one-half second left to provide the final margin.
Despite its significant advantage in height, Tennessee managed just three more rebounds (34 to 31) than the undersized Tigers.