NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Auburn has at least one more game in the
Southeastern Conference tournament, thanks to a 66-53 victory over
Tennessee Friday night.
But both the Tigers and the Volunteers hope they have more games
ahead in the NCAA Tournament as well.
Auburn (20-10), which had not made the NCAA Tournament since
2000, was looking for a good enough showing in its first SEC
tournament game to erase the memories of an embarrassing 22-point
loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. The Tigers, 38th in the RPI,
felt they had to have at least one more win to earn an NCAA
"I'm not on the committee,'' Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "I
don't know, what do you have to do? We did it in the regular
season. We've done it in the conference tournament. What do you
have to do?''
Tennessee (17-11) has to hope its 9-8 conference record will
offset a 51 RPI and a lack of quality non-conference wins.
"I think this team is NCAA bound,'' said Tennessee coach Buzz
Peterson. "We have too many good wins. I believe we have more
season ahead of us.''
Even getting past the quarterfinal round would have been a coup
for Tennessee, which is the only SEC team since the conference
expanded in 1992 that hasn't made an appearance in the semifinals.
Marco Killingsworth led Auburn with 17 points and 10 rebounds,
Ron Slay led Tennessee with 16 points before fouling out with
Crump also had 10 rebounds.
Tennessee shot under 37 percent from the field and made just 12
of 21 free throws.
Slay had "I Got U UGA'' on one shoe and "Higgs I Luv U'' on
the other. One was a reference to Georgia, which pulled out of the
tournament because of academic misdeeds, giving Tennessee a bye in
the first round. The other was a tribute to Slay's teammate Jon
Higgins, who was ruled academically ineligible for the postseason.
"We're looking for another opportunity to get out there and
play and what better than the NCAA Tournament?'' Slay said.
Auburn never trailed or allowed the Volunteers to come closer
than four points early in the second half.
The Tigers outscored the Volunteers 40-22 in the paint.
Auburn led by as much as 11 in the first half as Tennessee went
eight minutes without scoring and was up 31-24 at break.
- Doug Shows
- Tom Eades
- Bert Smith