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Photo by Auburn University Glomerata
Photo by Auburn University Glomerata

Auburn to face tough challenge at Tennessee

No. 25 Auburn will travel to the No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers this Saturday in what is expected to be a competitive matchup.

“They are very, very deep. They are very talented. They are well coached. They are very physical.” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “This will be, by far, the tallest task we have faced.”

Auburn will look to build off an impressive win at home against Georgia which saw them secure their first win in three games. Allen Flanigan led the squad with 22 points and Johni Broome matched a career-high in rebounds, finishing with 19 points and 18 rebounds.  

Despite winning comfortably against Georgia, the Tigers will have a much harder matchup against the Volunteers. The Vols are sure to come out with a sense of fire and sense of something to prove after losing to unranked Florida on Wednesday by a score of 67-54. 

If Auburn wants an opportunity to win, taking care of the ball will be priority number one, as Tennessee ranks second in the nation in scoring defense. The Tigers will have to play a seamlessly perfect offensive game and create open shots due to the Vols being the best in the country for field goal percentage defense (.348) and 3-point defense (.255).

“Tennessee is the best defensive team in the country,” Pearl said. “They run a lot of the very same principles that we run, as far as how they guard in the man-to- man.”

The game will most likely come down to which team can convert the most from the 3-point line. For Auburn, it will be Wendell Green Jr. and K.D. Johnson that the game will rely heavily on. In defeats this season, Green is 2-of-21 and Johnson is 3-of-19 from long distance. If the guards are hitting the shots against the home team it should be a very real possibility Auburn steals the game away from Tennessee. 

On the other side of the ball, Zakai Zeigler will look to notch his sixth straight game of double digit points. The reigning SEC Player of the Week will pose a threat to the Tigers, as in every loss an opposing guard has scored at least 20+ points. When not scoring, the sophomore is the premier passer of the SEC, as he averages a league-high 6.8 assists. 

Do not expect a high scoring game, as Tennessee has only let three teams surpass the 70 point mark this season. The matchup will feature the third sellout of the year at Thompson Boling Arena so the Tigers will face one of, if not the hardest, atmosphere thus far this season. 

The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. CT tip-off at Thompson Boling Arena with broadcasting on ESPN. 

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