KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – For the second-straight game the Big Orange made fewer than 30 percent of their shots from the field. However, the UT defense stepped up against the Tigers, earning a tough 46-43 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Auburn shot at just a 23.6 percent clip on the day, the second-lowest field goal percentage allowed by the Vols all season.
Tennessee led by just four points at half, 23-19. The advantage grew to as large as eight points with 5:25 remaining in the contest. But, a Johni Broome putback sliced the lead down to just a single point with 18 seconds left.
After a pair of Zakai Zeigler free throws, War Eagle got one last chance to tie the game. Wendell Green Jr. jumped into a triple, but it clanked off the rim and into the arms of the Big Orange as time expired.
Josiah-Jordan James notched a double-double for UT with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Olivier Nkamhoua also pitched in nine points.
Broome led the way for Auburn with eleven points and nine boards, while K.D. Johnson added ten points off the bench.
“I don’t think we reached tonight in the post very much,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought we stayed down for the most part. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Again, our post guys had their work cut out for them tonight and they battled.”
“A game like that shows a lot of character,” James said. “How you respond when you’re not making shots and I feel like we responded really well on the defensive end. Unlike we did against Florida when shots weren’t falling. I think we learned a lot from that game. Many lessons were learned and I’m glad we responded the way we did.”
Tennessee (19-4, 8-2 SEC) will remain in-state this week, as they travel to Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.