AUBURN, Ala. – Despite a strong showing on the offensive end and 21 points from Santiago Vescovi, No. 12 Tennessee came up short in its regular-season finale at Auburn Saturday, 79-70.
The Vols (22-9, 11-7 SEC) shot 47.2 percent from the floor for the game Saturday and outrebounded Auburn 35-29, but were unable to withstand a late run by the Tigers in a hostile road environment.
After an 11-2 Tennessee run gave the Vols a 63-60 lead with 6:13 remaining, Auburn seized control of the game—closing regulation on a 19-7 run and forcing Tennessee to miss its final seven field goal attempts.
Vescovi paced the Vols offensively with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range—as well as five rebounds and four assists. Tyreke Key added 13 points for Tennessee, while Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips had 10 apiece.
For Auburn, four players—Wendell Green Jr., Johni Broome, Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams—combined for 70 of the Tigers’ 79 total points.
Auburn threatened to run away with the game early in the second half—starting the final period on a 10-2 run capped off by back-to-back threes from Flanigan and Broome, but a 7-3 Vols’ run—with four points scored by Key—stopped the bleeding and tied the game back up at 43.
After Tennessee stopped the Tigers’ initial second-half run, Auburn then pushed its lead to six points on three separate occasions from the 10:36 mark to the 8:56 mark of the second half, but Tennessee answered each time.
When the Tigers pulled in front by six for the third time at the 8:56 mark on a Wendell Green Jr. baseline jumper, Tennessee immediately answered with an 11-2 run—with seven of those points coming from Vescovi—to pull in front with 6:13 to go, 63-60.
In a first half that featured four ties and six lead changes, neither team led by more than four points for the first 17:35 of action until a 3-pointer from James broke a 27 all tie and boosted Tennessee to a 7-0 run and 34-27 lead.
Auburn however answered right at the first half buzzer with a fadeaway corner three from Green Jr. to cut the Tigers’ halftime deficit to four points at 34-30.
Vescovi paced Tennessee offensively in the first half with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. The Vols shot 50 percent from the field in the first half (14-of-28) and 63 percent from long range (5-of-8).
UP NEXT: Tennessee heads to Nashville next week for the SEC Tournament. Depending on the results of Saturday’s action around the SEC, Tennessee will open the SEC Tournament on either Thursday or Friday.