Auburn got the best of the Vols in the first matchup, an 84-80 victory that ended Tennessee’s hopes for another share of the regular season title.
Both teams won hard-fought, emotional games yesterday. It will be interesting to see how they respond with an early tip.
Final Record and Standings
- 25-9 (11-7)
- 5th SEC
- Won last three
- G Bryce Brown: 15.7 PPG, 40.0 FG%, 66.6 FT%, 39.0 3PT%, 0.7 REB, 2.0 AST, 0.7 TO, 1.0 STL, 34.7 MIN
At this point, we all know what Brown can do. He is a key cog in Bruce Pearl’s machine and is deadly from three.
He’s 13 of 33 from beyond the arc during the tournament, which is right on pace with his regular season stats. Limiting Brown’s range from three has to be one of Tennessee’s priorities in this matchup.
- G Jared Harper: 17.3 PPG, 46.7 FG%, 78.9 FT%, 45.0 3PT%, 3.0 REB, 4.3 AST, 2.0 TO, 2.0 STL, 32.0 MIN
Harper is quick, athletic, and a helluva point guard. He made Tennessee’s life hell the last time these two teams met up and will certainly look to have a repeat performance Sunday.
- F Chuma Okeke: 8.3 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 75.0 FT%, 16.7 3PT%, 5.3 REB, 1.3 BLK, 1.7 AST, 1.7 TO, 24.0 MIN
Okeke led the Tigers in scoring with 22 points in the season finale against the Vols, thanks to stellar three-point shooting.
He’s a prototypical problem for the Vols. Any big man that can set up an inside presence and make outside shots will give Tennessee fits. If the Vols want to win the SEC Tournament, then they have to contain Okeke.
**Please note these stats reflect SEC Tournament stats**
You can easily make an argument that the Tigers got away with one against the Florida Gators on Saturday.
Florida led 62-61 with under 20 seconds left in the game before a Harper three put the Tigers up 64-62 with just 12 seconds left on the clock. Florida committed the obligatory foul on Auburn’s next possession, but the Tigers only made one free throw, breathing life into the Gators’ tourney hopes.
But Florida never got a chance to tie the game thanks to a very bad no-call on Andrew Nembhard as he was mugged by three Tiger defenders as he went up to attempt the game-tying 3.
It was a strange game. The Gators shot 60.5 percent from the floor and dominated the glass, 32-17. But Auburn forced the Gators into 19 turnovers - something the team has done well over its seven-game winning streak - and that proved to be the difference in the game.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how these teams perform after very emotional victories on Saturday.
Thankfully Auburn escaped with a win and didn’t just dominate the Gators, because one would think that would give the Tigers an advantage coming into the championship game.
In all honestly, turnovers were the main reason the Vols lost the first matchup. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Rick Barnes made his guys well aware of their mistakes and that the same mistakes won’t be made again.
Tennessee can’t get sucked into chucking up 3s, either. The Vols tried to keep pace in the last game and it cost them a win. Pace the floor, find Grant Williams, and bang that sucker home - don’t try and keep up with the Tigers’ perimeter game.
It’s time to cut down the nets in Nashville, boys. Let’s do this.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Tip-off time: 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Radio: Vol Network
Odds: Tennessee -5