Vols try to right ship at Auburn
Auburn, AL (Sports Network) – The 22nd-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, led by SEC
Player of the Year hopeful Chris Lofton, invade Auburn tonight for a battle
with the Tigers.
Tennessee had a streak of nine consecutive wins before losing its last two
games by three combined points. After losing to Vanderbilt on a last-second
shot last Wednesday, the Vols dropped a 68-66 decision at Ohio State on
Saturday in a non-conference clash of national heavyweights. Tennessee has only
played three true road games to date, and two of those have resulted in defeat.
All 11 of Auburn’s wins have come at home, an obvious reason for the club to be
confident tonight. The Tigers have lost their last two games overall, however,
and they are coming off a heart-breaking 65-63 setback to LSU on Saturday.
Tennessee owns a commanding 66-35 lead in the all-time series with Auburn,
including seven victories in the last nine meetings with the Tigers.
It is hard to find another player in the nation who means as much to his team
as Chris Lofton does to Tennessee. Lofton has been the team’s leading scorer in
13 of the team’s 17 games to date. He is averaging 22.5 ppg on the strength of
his 51.5 percent shooting from the field, including 46.4 percent from three-
point range, and he is an 80.7 percent free throw shooter as well. JaJuan Smith
is averaging 14.1 ppg for Tennessee, and Duke Crews adds 10.2 ppg to the mix.
Lofton managed 21 points against Ohio State despite constant hounding by
Buckeye defenders. The Vols connected on only 38.6 percent of their field goal
attempts in that clash and were outscored 18-5 from the foul line. A 46-30
rebounding advantage also hurt the cause.
Auburn does not possess a single player who can be considered a star, but the
fact that five players average double figures in scoring speaks to the team’s
offensive balance. Rasheem Barrett leads the group with 12.8 ppg, and Korvotney
Barber (12.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 40 blocks) is close behind. Frank Tolbert checks in
with 11.5 ppg, while Josh Dollard and Quan Prowell are contributing 11.0 ppg
apiece. Dollard leads the team in rebounding as well with 7.2 rpg. Barrett
scored 18 points for Auburn in the narrow loss to LSU, while Prowell pitched in
12 points and Dollard tallied 11 points. The Tigers were held to 39.3 percent
shooting from the floor, including a 5-of-18 effort from three-point range.