Tennessee's chance to clinch a share of the SEC title didn't go the way the No. 5 Vols hoped against Auburn, as the home Tigers emerged with an 84-80 win.
Tennessee couldn't hold onto its 41-35 halftime lead as Aburn exploded for 48 second-half points to get the win in front of its home fans. Auburn didn't wilt down the stretch as it held a slim lead. When Tennessee's Grant Williams swatted away an Auburn layup in the final two minutes, the Tigers' Samir Doughty was there to corral the ball and knock down a crucial 3-pointer that kept his team just far enough in the lead.
This game had big SEC title implications
Tennessee came into the game with a 15-2 record, tied with LSU at the top of the SEC. Now that slips to 15-3, as the Vols' chances of claiming sole possession of the conference championship have evaporated. Rick Barnes and his players will turn their attention toward LSU. The Tigers don't play until 8:30 p.m., when they'll take on Vanderbilt.
LSU takes home sole possession of the SEC title and a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win. But a loss would mean Tennessee and LSU split the title, with the latter team holding the tiebreaker thanks to a head-to-head victory in February.
SEC TOURNAMENT: Schedule, seeds, bracket
Auburn is still pretty good, in case you haven't been paying attention
Auburn isn't ranked in the AP Top 25, but their chances at a bid in the NCAA tournament look solid. The Tigers were No. 19 in the NET and 13 in Ken Pomeroy's efficiency rankings coming into Saturday's game, and their play matched up with the hype.
After Tennessee stoked itself out to an 11-point lead in the first half, Auburn evened things out to start the second period. Chuma Okeke had 22 points to lead the Tigers, and combined with Bryce Brown to go 7-for-16 on 3-pointers. Auburn has been excellent on offense for most of the season, and that continued as the Tigers went shot-for-shot against Tennessee's elite attack and came out on top.
Bruce Pearl's squad finishes SEC play at 11-7, still good for fourth in the the conference. Auburn came in as a No. 8 seed in Andy Katz's most recent bracketology. Now the Tigers will have a chance to improve on that spot as a top-4 seed in the SEC tournament in Nashville.