Tennessee 46, Auburn 43
In 1973, Tennessee beat Temple by a score of 11-6, the lowest scoring game in school history. I've long wondered what it was like to see that game live. I no longer wish to know. In a return to Thompson-Boling Arena for Bruce Pearl, the Vols paid homage to a former coach in a different sport by filling the stat sheet brick by brick.
It was however a win against a top-25 opponent and a team that was tied with Tennessee at second place in the SEC standings coming in. Tennessee did what was needed to get the W, often in spite of themselves. Josiah-Jordan James grabbed his first double-double of the season with 14 rebounds along with his 15 points (33% of UT's offensive output). Jahmai Mashack had some of the best minutes he's played in quite some time. Jonas Aidoo was good on the glass (but did nothing offensively). Tobe Awaka played with a ton of effort that won't necessarily show up in the stat sheet. Uros did play the tough guy role well in some spots but picked up a technical for taunting Auburn's Johni Broome as "too small", a tech that was both a questionable call and a silly action to begin with.
Speaking of Broome, Auburn's big man did not get his seventh double-double of the SEC schedule, grabbing nine rebounds and putting up 11 points. Tennessee's guards also held Wendell Green Jr. to just nine points. Unsurprisingly, the Vol defense did things just right, while the offense slogged through a painful 40 minutes. I have summarized Santiago Vescovi's offensive contribution in one image below:
That one three and the foul drawn while shooting it accounted for over half of Vescovi's points and nearly 10% of all Tennessee points on the day. I'm going to hope that ZZ and Santi are simply slumping right now instead of in March, and that by tourney time both will have found their shots again without too much damage happening in the interim.
(Also--was there a foul on the last shot? It certainly could've been called one. I think Green jumped into the defender and as such was a good no call, or at least a good make-up call for the mugging Vescovi took on the trap a few seconds earlier.)
Up next: Vols @ Vandy, Wednesday 2/8/23, 7:00 p.m. SEC Network.