KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee defeated Auburn, 78-67, Wednesday night in a game the Vols led from wire to wire and placed all five starters in double figures.
knocked off Auburn, 78-67, in a game the Vols never trailed as all five starters scored in double-figures.
Jordan McRae (21) and Josh Richardson (15) led the UT scoring parade.
The Vols improved to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the SEC with their fifth wire-to-wire win on the season.
The win came with new Basketball Hall of Famer and Vols legend Bernard King sitting behind the Vols bench. With King on hand -- the Vols' all-time leader in double-doubles (62), Jarnell Stokes posted his 26th career double-double. He tallied 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Jeronne Maymon had 11 points and eight boards before fouling out late. Antonio Barton added 11 points.
The Vols shot an impressive 51.0 from the floor and out rebounded Auburn 42-28.
The Vols won their eighth consecutive home game against the Tigers dating to 1998 and sixth in a row in the series.
Auburn is now 8-6 and winless in the league at 0-3. Chris Denson led the Tigers with 24.
The SEC's leading scorer KT Harrell poured in 15 points for the Tigers after coming into the game, averaging 19.3.
Coming off the heartbreaking, last-second loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, Tennessee took control of the game early on with strong shooting and excellent defense. The Vols also dominated the glass early on grabbing 11 of the game's first 13 rebounds.
The Vols took a 16-6 lead about seven minutes into the game on some splendid drives to the hoop by McRae and Richardson.
Richardson was the story of the first half as he converted 6-of-8 from the floor for 13 points to lead all scorers over the first 20 minutes. Stokes showed his power early on as well with eight points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Tennessee led 33-28 at intermission as Auburn's Malcom Canada connected on a 3-pointer -- his first shot of the game -- as time expired.
Auburn continued to hang around early in the second half, closing the gap to as small as two points. But, the Vols used a 9-2 burst to pull ahead by 11 at 50-39 on a nifty under-handed layup by freshman Darius Thompson with 13:36 left in the game.
McRae ripped off five consecutive points to regain a 10-point lead for UT after Auburn crept back to within five. That put the Vols ahead 57-47 midway through the second half.
Tennessee continued to keep the Tigers at bay for the remainder of the contest, leading by at least six and as many as 12.
Tennessee now leads the all-time series with 73-37 and has won six in a row vs. Auburn.
The Vols hit the road to take on No. 13 Kentucky on Saturday at noon ET. That game will air nationally on CBS and can be heard on the Vol Network.
Last season, the Vols posted their largest win the series, an 88-58 victory over the Wildcats on Feb. 16. Tennessee has lost seven consecutive in Lexington, dating to the last win for UT on Feb. 7, 2006.
"Good win. Win number 2 in the league play. I thought we did a better job both halves offensively - especially in the second half, getting baskets around the rim, getting scoring opportunities and driving the ball. I didn't want the guys to start settling for 3 point shots, because in this game I felt that there was an opportunity to score it in the lane, to be able to drive our post feeds.
"Jarnell did a good job shooting free throws. Five starters in double figures. I thought we did a good job facilitating the ball, dribble penetration. We've got to correct that turnover situation. I think we're a little too loose with the ball and we're giving those guys opportunities on the other end. We have to get better in that area.
"Give Chris Denson and KT (Harrell) credit - two guys that are scoring the ball and are legitimate scorers. I've watched a lot of film on those guys. Two of the better scorers. Obviously, you've got two guys hovering around twenty points per game and shooting almost 50 percent. I don't care where you're playing, this is one of the best leagues for athleticism and talent. Those guys are legitimate scorers. We try to do our best job corralling them but they still make plays, so give them credit. But it was a good win for our guys."
(On if he was disappointed with the defense)
"I wouldn't necessarily say 'disappointed.' Sometimes you have to give credit where it's due. I thought our guys did a solid job, but not a great job corralling the ball. They key for us is to corral the ball and making other guys beat you, but they put their heads down. With new rules, it benefits guys like that. You can slash and attack the rim, and Denson is one of those guys that can really slash and attack, and if you touch him it's a foul. You've go to do the best job in really trying to keep him in front of you. You've got to give those guys credit. I wouldn't necessarily say our guys did a poor job. Sometimes you've got to give credit where it's due."
(On Jordan McRae)
"We were just helping him calm down. I didn't think he had good composure in the first half. Just telling him to calm down and relax. Just let the game come to him and be aggressive and get opportunities to score. I thought he settled down in the second half. I didn't think it was on of his job defensively, and I thought he settled down in the second half so he made the adjustment and we put him on the point guard to keep him on the floor. He did a better job."
(On scoring balance)
"It helps when you've got balance like that to score the ball, getting space and you're making your free throws. Anytime you're shooting over 50 percent from the field, it helps you. But we've got limit those turnovers. You've got to give yourself a chance to dominate games. We're not helping ourselves turning the ball over."
(On Josh Richardson)
"They started out in a triangle and two. We've seen it all season. When Josh made his shot, it opened things up. Then we ran an offense that we normally run against a triangle and two so it opened things up and just play the game. For us, again, is trying to pound that ball inside because we felt like there were opportunities, whether they were playing the zone or get the ball to the high post, or dribble penetration. Opportunities presented themselves, and we took advantage of it."
(On bouncing back)
"As a staff we thought it would be a really tough thing. Let's just get out and play. As long as those days linger on, it gets tougher and tougher. Even in practice, we were there but the energy and the emotion was not at the level it normally is. To their defense, I can understand. I felt the same way. You have to muster up the energy to bounce back and get ready to go. But this was to get over the hump and back on your grind."
(On executing plays)
"I think a little bit of both- maybe some breakdown. I don't think our big guys did a great job of cutting that baseline off when they were making plays. Then I have to watch film to be exact, but our guards did a good job of trying to chorale the ball, but it was the second big to cut it off. They were making plays- they were slashing. As a big, you don't want to get fouled. Any bump, it can be a call. I didn't think that second big did a good job of making that rotation whether it was cutting off the base or getting in the lane."
(On Jarnell Stokes)
"I think what helped him- you talk about a guy who came in at 278, 273 [pounds], now he's down to 260 pounds, might be under that. He really conditioned his body to be able to do that. You have to give him credit for that. You practice to play long minutes to be in the game. If that means 40 minutes, you have to play 40 minutes."
"I think his shoulder was better. To his defense, he's not a guy that is going to complain about it. His shoulder- it's a legitimate issue. I thought it was better tonight with rehab, ice. He was able to be more aggressive. I think that was the case."
(On Kentucky preparation)
"You talk about a league team- a very talented league team. I haven't watched film with a pen and a pad on them, because my focus is obviously Auburn, but I'll start that tomorrow morning, start breaking down film- analyzing. One of our assistant coaches already scouts them, so he has a game plan, but for me I have to watch these four or five pieces of film."
(On putting the A&M game behind them)
"It was, you know we wanted to start off SEC games with a win, in a while we just had to realize it was a long season and being 2-1 coming into Saturday we are feeling good about ourselves. Of course no loss would have helped. "
(On playing in Rupp Arena)
"Yeah, I mean its fun playing in a hostile environment but its only fun if we win but it's still fun."
(On thoughts of Kentucky's team)
"Yeah, they're a good team. They are their usual Kentucky team. They are going to be tough to beat at home but I think we can manage."
(On shooting 50% about as a team)
"We moved the ball well, finding guys, open shots, making the extra passes. Even the missed shots were some good shots, we just did a good job."
(On the Stokes' and Maymon's big night)
"We want to be a dominate force on both ends rebounding and being assistive on the offensive end so we look for each other and we play well while our team plays well."
(On Stoke and Maymon playing well for a win at Kentucky)
"Most definitely, if we can get the inside game going it will really open up for our outside game. When we both can start clicking on the inside and outside I think it will be a good game."
(On Auburn cutting the lead within 5 points with 3-4 minutes left)
"Get a stop and huddle. We said how many stops could we get in a row; our main focus was just to go out there and get stops. "
(On containing Auburn guards, in particular, Denson)
"Those guards were very shifty so it was very hard to contain those guards. They do a really good job of attacking the rim and finishing so kudos to them."
(On outrebounding the opponent)
"It was just toughness. We went in there strong, boxed out hard and drove them back so I think that really gave us the edge. Plus our guards rebound down so that really helped."
(On playing closer in second half)
"They did a great job of playing hard, and they stayed in the game the entire second half. They had small runs, but we had the same thing. I feel like that is a testament to our experience."
(On shooting during the first half)
"They were just leaving me open, so it was easy shots."
(On lack of scoring in second half)
"I guess I just wasn't getting looks. I am just glad we won."
(On this being a confidence builder for Saturday's game)
"It definitely is because we were able to redeem ourselves from last game. Going on the road with a win is a high note for us."
(On guarding Harrell and Denson)
"It was tough. KT Harrell is one of the best scorers in the league. That is always a tough cover. Chris Denson did a good job of getting to the rack and using his quickness against us. I guarded Denson a little in the first half but not much."
(On allowing Auburn to stay close)
"They did a good job of staying in the game and getting good looks. It wasn't a big concern, but we just have to do a better job of maintaining our lead."
(On starting five all having double digits)
"It is definitely nice. It shows how much balance we have, and it shows how many weapons we have on the court. People can't double up anybody or help too deep because we are just going to make them pay for it every time."
(On not playing earlier this season)
"It was really frustrating that I wasn't play, but I knew that I needed to improve my playing and be more consistent. Coaches were telling me I needed to be more consistent in practice. I had to keep working hard, stay in the weight room, and make shots. That is what I really focused on in practice."
(On playing confident)
"Coach always talks about being confident. You can't lose your confidence because if you do, you aren't going to play well. My strategy is that every shot I take, I am going to make it."
(On Auburn's late run)
"I felt like we needed to relax in that situation. We realized they were trying to come back. We had to keep our composure and relax. We knew we could stop them on defense."
(On having a situational scorer like McRae)
"It is really big. We need that from him. It is good that he steps up."
Auburn Head Coach Tony Barbee
"Playing Tennessee is a tough team in a tough environment. They made the plays, their free throws and their big guys made the difference in this game with their presence, getting offensive rebounds inside and getting to the foul line."
(On the guards dominating the scoring for Auburn)
"It's not so much scoring, but its rebounding presence. I thought Asauhn (Dixon-Tatum) did a good job rebounding the basketball, given the size they had in the paint. We needed more rebounding the ball from Matt (Atewe), we needed more rebounding the ball out of Allen Payne, and I talked about it, our guards ended up with two rebounds, three rebounds, no rebounds, we were losing. When you look at the stat sheet, that's what happened. I think our leading guard as a rebounder had three."
(On cutting the lead to four but not getting closer)
"We couldn't come up with key stops. They got to the foul line and made their shots. We couldn't get the stops when we needed to."
(On if he was disappointed after coming close against Missouri)
"It’s disappointing, obviously. Any time you lose it's disappointing, especially given how hard this team fights, how hard they fight together. We're going to be fine because this is a hard-nosed team that sticks together."
Tennessee 78, Auburn 67
Auburn (8-6, 0-3)
Dixon-Tatum 2-5 2-2 6, Harrell 5-15 2-2 15, Payne 1-7 1-2 4, Denson 10-18 4-7 24, Shamsid-Deen 4-8 0-1 10, Wade 1-2 0-0 2, Thompson 1-2 090 3, Canada 1-2 0-0 3, Atewe 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 9-14 67.
Tennessee (11-5, 2-1)
Richardson 7-11 0-0 15, Barton 3-8 4-5 11, Stokes 4-7 6-6 14, Maymon 4-7 3-3 11, McRae 6-14 8-12 21, Thompson 1-1 0-2 2, Reese 1-3 2-2 4, Edwards 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-51 23-30 78.
Halftime – Tennessee 33-28.
3-Point Goals – Auburn 8-17 (Harrell 3-7, Shamsid-Deen 2-4, Thompson 1-1, Canada 1-1, Payne 1-2, Denson 0-1, Wade 0-1); Tennessee 3-9 (Richardson 1-2, Barton 1-3, McRae 1-3, Reese 0-1).
Fouled Out – Maymon.
Rebounds – Auburn 28 (Dixon-Tatum 8), Tennessee 42 (Stokes 14).
Assists – Auburn 8 (Harrell, Payne, Shamsid-Deen 2), Tennessee 14 (Maymon, McRae, Stokes 3).
Fouls – Auburn 25, Tennessee 16.
Att. – 14,205.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)