KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Samir Doughty made 8 of 13 3-pointers and finished with 32 points as No. 17 Auburn beat Tennessee 85-63 Saturday, snapping a two-game skid in the regular-season finale.
Auburn (25-6, 12-6) now heads to Nashville to defend its Southeastern Conference Tournament championship in winning fashion after the Tigers had lost four of their previous six. Auburn already had earned a double-bye to the quarterfinals after winning four games in four days last year to win the league tournament.
Doughty gave Auburn the opening lead with a 3 a minute into the game, and the Tigers never trailed on their way to a second straight victory over the Volunteers in Knoxville for the first time in program history.
J’Von McCormick scored 13 points for Auburn, and Isaac Okoro finished with 11.
Tennessee (17-14, 9-9) showed off the inconsistency that has marked this season.
John Fulkerson led the Vols with 19 points before fouling out late. Jordan Bowden added 17 on Senior Day, and Santiago Vescovi had 13.
After rallying from 17 down to upset No. 6 Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night, the Vols struggled to score for long stretches and were beaten on the boards. Auburn had a 20-9 edge in rebounding in a first half that featured a 7-minute, 10-second stretch by the Vols without a field goal and the Tigers up 42-31 at halftime.
Doughty put Auburn up 54-37 for the Tigers’ biggest lead of the game with 13:52 remaining — the same 17-point deficit Tennessee faced against Kentucky. The Vols went on a 16-4 run with Fulkerson’s dunk pulling them to within 58-53 with 11:15 left.
But Doughty hit his sixth 3 of the game with 11:01 to go, starting a 10-3 spurt to push the lead back to double digits. Tennessee didn’t hit another field goal after Fulkerson’s dunk until a 3 by Vescovi with 4:54 to go pulled Tennessee to within 72-62.
Auburn: This marks just the fourth 25-win season in program history for the tigers, and now three of those have come under coach Bruce Pearl. … The Tigers won their ninth road game, which had been tied for most in the SEC away from home, with Kentucky and Florida at eight. … The Tigers dominated in the paint, outscoring the Vols’ 30-16 edge and on the boards (42-26).
Tennessee: The Vols will head to Nashville needing a strong performance to push themselves off the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. But coach Rick Barnes will lose only one senior off this team in Bowden, and he has a pair of five-star recruits coming in this fall in a recruiting class ranked fifth nationally.
Auburn: The SEC quarterfinals on Friday.
Tennessee: A Thursday game at the tournament.