AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Jordan McRae kept on rolling while Trae Golden and the Tennessee Volunteers got back on track after a tough game.
McRae and Golden each scored most of their 21 points in the second half to lead Tennessee to an 82-75 come-from-behind victory over Auburn on Wednesday night.
Trying to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, the Volunteers (18-11, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) went on a 13-2 run with seven minutes left after rallying from a six-point deficit early in the second half.
"We were just telling each other to turn up our energy and match theirs," said McRae, who had averaged 26.8 points over the previous five games.
They certainly had bigger stakes.
Tennessee rebounded after getting upset by Georgia to end a six-game winning streak and couldn't afford a loss to a team trying to avoid a last-place SEC finish.
Golden, held to four points against the Bulldogs, had 16 in the second half. McRae remained one of the SEC's hottest players with 15 after the half.
Golden also had six assists and made all seven free throw attempts while committing just one turnover. McRae had seven rebounds and was 9 of 11 from the line.
Jarnell Stokes had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Vols but made just one of 10 free throw attempts. The rest of the team was 26 of 28.
"When I get back to Knoxville, I'll probably make about 100 before I go to bed tonight," Stokes said. "I hope to never shoot like that again."
Frankie Sullivan broke out of a prolonged slump with 24 points before fouling out for Auburn (9-21, 3-14), which has lost eight straight and 14 of its last 15 games. It's the worst slump during a season for the Tigers since going 1-14 in 1942-43.
Josh Wallace added a season-high 14 points, 12 in the second half. He also fouled out.
Wallace and Sullivan are two of the team's five seniors, all of whom started — even walk-on Dylan Spencer, who scored the first points of his career with an early 3-poiner.
"I'm disappointed for them that we've had the kind of season we've had," Barbee said. "They deserve more. They deserve to go out as winners."
The Tigers shot 51 percent (28 of 55) and at one point led 44-38 early in the second half.
Tennessee attempted 38 free throws while Auburn was 10 of 12.
"I've never seen a stat sheet like these," Barbee said. "We had four more field goals, two more 3s and a team takes 23 more foul shots than you do. Never seen that before. That's the difference in the ball game."
No. 2 scorer Chris Denson didn't play for Auburn with back problems after trying to go during the shootaround.
Rob Chubb gave Auburn a 60-59 lead midway through the second half, then Skylar McBee started a 14-2 run with a 3-pointer. McRae scored seven points to help the Vols take a commanding 77-64 lead into the final minutes.
Auburn cut it down to five after a pair of Noel Johnson 3-pointers in the final 1:15 but got no closer. Josh Richardson and Golden each hit a pair of free throws after that.
Vols coach Cuonzo Martin even said he wasn't surprised that it was closer than many expected.
"I even said to the guys before the game started that it would go down to the wire because of what's at stake," Martin said. "Those guys played with emotion. I read in the paper that Frankie Sullivan said he didn't want to lose this game. We knew that."
The Vols, who committed just eight turnovers, scored eight straight points after falling behind 44-38 early in the second half. Golden scored the first five points and McRae added a dunk and free throw.
Golden had a one-game struggle after averaging 18.7 points during the stretch, going 1-of-10 shooting against Georgia.
McRae has suffered no such lapse. He scored 35 against the Bulldogs.
The Tigers rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a 35-32 lead into halftime, largely thanks to Wallace's drives for baskets or fouls. Wallace made 5 of 7 shots and had four assists.
"He gave everything he could to win this game," Barbee said.comments powered by Disqus