It's Hoops Time in Tennessee: Auburn Preview 3/4/23
Last time out: Tennessee (22-8, 11-6) beat Arkansas 75-57, but lost Zakai Zeigler to an ACL tear in the process. Auburn (19-11, 9-8) nearly upset Alabama but lost in overtime 85-90.
Previously on Vols-Tigers: Tennessee and Auburn put each other through a meat grinder a month ago with UT coming out on top 46-43 in Knoxville. The Vols lead the all-time series 80-44 but are just 23-30 on the Plains. Tennessee has just four of the last ten games against the Tigers, but they have captured two in a row.
Who to Watch: Normally I use this section to highlight a couple of opposing players. You can go back to the preview post from the last game against Auburn and check out what I wrote about Johni Broome, Wendell Green, and Jaylin Williams; it mostly holds true a month later.
What will be interesting to watch in this game is how Rick Barnes responds to ZZ's injury. Does he go with a bigger lineup? Does he give more minutes to freshman BJ Edwards? Is Santiago Vescovi the primary ball handler? Can Jahmai Mashack create enough offensively to play the 1? It's going to be fascinating to see what Barnes cooks up as the postseason looms next week.
Prediction: There is still quite a bit at stake in this game. A loss could potentially knock Tennessee down to the 5th seed in the SEC Tournament, missing the double-bye and an extra day of rest. I really want to believe Tennessee will find the answer for Zeigler's absence. There are pieces on the roster to make it happen, but I'm afraid this one will be rough while the Vols figure it out. Auburn wins at home on their senior day.