Auburn basketball impressed no matter sturdy loss at Tennessee

When the sentiments settled for Auburn following the bewilderment of the controversial final sequence in its loss at Tennessee on Saturday, the Tigers appeared throughout the visiting locker room at Thompson-Boling Space and felt a method of accomplishment.

It’s not that Auburn found an moral victory in its 46-43 loss to then-No. 2 Tennessee, nevertheless Bruce Pearl’s workforce left Knoxville, Tenn., feeling greater regarding the better picture—even as a result of it was disenchanted inside the finish outcome in the direction of the Vols.

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“That was a hard loss, nevertheless I actually really feel like as quickly as we had been inside the locker room after the game, we had been upset nevertheless we had been form of like, ‘OK, if that’s the No. 2 workforce inside the nation or like sixth now, we are going to win,’” senior forward Jaylin Williams talked about. “Like, we are going to win further video video games than like these reporters and all people believes.”

Auburn obtained right here up merely temporary in its upset bid on the road in the direction of Tennessee. The Tigers’ offense struggled in the direction of the Vols’ vaunted safety, nevertheless Auburn’s safety held its private in a hostile road ambiance whereas holding Tennessee to a season low in components — and its lowest-scoring effectivity since 2015 — along with its second-worst taking photos effort of the 12 months (27 p.c from the sector) and its worst 3-point taking photos effectivity since 2017 (9 p.c).

Auburn nearly erased a six-point deficit inside the final 2 ½ minutes, holding Tennessee and never utilizing a made space function all through that stretch and attending to inside one with 18 seconds to play after forcing a turnover with a relentless full-court entice. Auburn had a possibility to tie the game on the buzzer, nevertheless Wendell Inexperienced Jr.’s 3-point strive caromed off the rim on the final word play, which included a contentious no-call no matter Tennessee’s Olivier Nkamhoua making contact with Inexperienced on the attempt to impeding on his landing space.

Whatever the three-point loss, Auburn was impressed by its effectivity on the defensive end and its different to steal a Quad 1 win on the road no matter an lack of potential to knock down images, every open appears to be and contested makes an try. The Tigers shot jut 23.7 p.c for the game and 11. p.c (3-of-27) from 3-point range, and they also went a complete 20-minute stretch — half of the game — with just one made space function: a deep 3-pointer by Inexperienced.

“The open images had been nonetheless contested,” Williams talked about. “Tennessee was sliding spherical, like, every teams, the safety was unimaginable. Nevertheless yeah, merely the images had been there. They’d been little contested images that we should all the time make.”

Even with the loss, which dropped Auburn out of the AP poll for the first time as a result of the end of the 2020-21 season, the Tigers moved up in KenPom rankings (they’re at current twenty fourth) and are thirtieth in NET rankings. The fight they confirmed on the road in the direction of one in all many nation’s prime teams, in a recreation by which the offense struggled to hunt out any sort of rhythm, has the Tigers optimistic regarding the daunting road in entrance of them over the final word month of the season.

That begins with a pair of Quad 1 options this week, first on Tuesday at Texas A&M (fortieth in NET), which snapped Auburn’s 28-game home worthwhile streak two weeks prior to now, then Saturday at home in the direction of third-ranked Alabama (No. 3 in NET).

“Properly, in the event you occur to like the grind, which I do,” Pearl talked about, “then you definitely positively love the place that you just simply’re in correct now.”

Tom Inexperienced is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Adjust to him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.