The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
SEC MEN'S TOURNAMENT - 1ST ROUND - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee rolls past Auburn in SEC Tournament opener

622 days ago
Associated Press
Photo: ESPN Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Armani Moore scored 22 points, Detrick Mostella added 17 and 12th-seeded Tennessee shot a season-best 59 percent from the field to beat No. 13 seed Auburn 97-59 Wednesday night in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

After failing to break 40 percent shooting while splitting two previous meetings this season against the Tigers, the Volunteers (14-18) seemingly couldn't miss this time around, hitting 12 of their first 16 in the second half alone. Tennessee raced to a 10-0 lead and stretched the gap to as many as 41 points in ending a four-game losing streak.

The Vols advanced to Thursday's second-round game against in-state rival and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt.

Devon Baulkman made four 3-pointers for 16 points for Tennessee while Derek Reese had 11 rebounds and nine points.

T.J. Dunans scored 17 points and Tyler Harris 14 for Auburn (11-20), which shot just 30 percent in losing by its largest margin to Tennessee in series history.

Both teams faced a challenging docket with the first of possibly playing five straight days including a semifinal matchup with top-seeded Texas A&M. First up was getting through this play-in game to open up things at Bridgestone Arena.

The Tigers had overcome such hurdles, reaching last year's tournament semifinal behind three straight wins to help coach Bruce Pearl's first season end on a high note. This appearance ended with a thud as Auburn was outmatched in every area, including rebounds (36-34) and points in the paint (32-20), while its bench was outscored 33-15. The Tigers finished SEC play with 12 losses in 14 games.

Tennessee entered with issues as well, including having to finish the season without leading scorer Kevin Punter Jr. after right foot surgery. Some days off to regroup and recharge apparently helped, and Baulkman quickly made sure the Vols' season lasted another day.

His two 3-pointers helped Tennessee score the game's first 10 points in just over three minutes before Moore (14) and Mostella (10) took over to lead an impressive 55-percent first half shooting.

Their athleticism also keyed a disruptive Vols defense that held listless Auburn to 8 of 31 from the field (26 percent). Tennessee eventually led by 22 before settling for a 44-25 advantage at halftime, but put it out of reach quickly in the second half.

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TIP-INS

Auburn: The Tigers had lost by as many as 36 points to Tennessee twice before, the last time in 1947. ... Jordon Granger hobbled off the floor early in the second half but later returned.

Tennessee: The Volunteers improved to 9-3 against Auburn in the SEC Tournament. ... Wednesday marked coach Rick Barnes' 950th career game. His 618 wins are the most among active SEC coaches. ... Freshman guard Lucas Campbell scored his first points for the Volunteers late in the game.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: Plays No. 5 seed Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Auburn: Season over.