AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Auburn fears no deficit too large in The Jungle. The No. 13 Tigers did it again, overcoming a 17-point deficit to down the Tennessee Volunteers 73-66 in Auburn Arena.
The Vols (15-12, 7-7) volunteered to give their lead up in this one, going scoreless for over seven minutes in the second half while the Tigers (23-4, 10-4) went on an 18-0 run to erase a 54-37 Tennessee lead.
“We needed that one,” said Auburn head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl. “I got after my team at halftime. I was very upset with our lack of effort and energy, our toughness. I lit into them. We got after Tennessee and we turned them over, which created some transition. We got it turned around in the second half.”
In the time that Auburn destroyed Tennessee’s lead, the Volunteers turned the ball over six times and shot 0-for-4 from the field.
“You turn a team over 24 times, you have 18 steals, it tells you the kind of fight and the kind of character you have,” said Pearl.
Auburn in that same span shot 7-for-11, taking the lead on a three-pointer from freshman Devan Cambridge at the 8:04 mark in the second half.
From then on it was a full-on fistfight with punches thrown back and forth.
After Cambridge’s three put Auburn ahead for the first time since the 7:17 mark in the first half, Tennessee got a bucket on the other end off an offensive rebound. Jalen Johnson’s baseline jumper rattled home to put UT back up 56-55.
The game was again tied with under two minutes to play in the game when Cambridge hit another big shot. Another corner three went down the drain with 1:38 to play to put Auburn ahead 67-64. Tennessee called a timeout following that three and got a two-point bucket out of the timeout. In the end, the Vols couldn’t keep the Tigers off the scoreboard down the stretch.
Anfernee McLemore got a layup to push the lead back to three, and then a turnover led to free throws from J’Von McCormick to push the lead to five. Two more free throws from Samir Doughty would polish off the comeback for Auburn, keeping the Tigers perfect at home and securing another huge comeback victory.
“We have to play every day the rest of the way like we did in the second half, and if we do, we’ve got a chance,” said Pearl.
Bruce Pearl’s squad bounced back from a 3-for-14 shooting performance beyond the arc in the first half to shoot 4-for-6 in the second half and finish 7-for-20.
Doughty finished the game as the only Auburn player to score in double figures with 22 points. Jordan Bowden finished with 28 points for Tennessee.
The Auburn Tigers are now 15-0 at home and will host the Ole Miss Rebels in midweek play Tuesday. Tip-off is 6 p.m.