March 6, 2013
AUBURN - Frankie Sullivan scored 24 points in the final home game of his career, including 17 in the second half, but Auburn fell to Tennessee 82-75 on Senior Night Wednesday in Auburn Arena.
"I'm disappointed that [the seniors] couldn't go out with a win in front of the home court, but those five guys represent everything that's right in college athletics, all five of them," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. "One of them has already graduated, Frankie [Sullivan]. The other four will all graduate on time with great degrees from Auburn, and they're going to go on to be very successful in life, and represent Auburn as Auburn men in an unbelievable way. So, I'm disappointed for them, that we've had the kind of season we've had. They deserve more. They deserve to go out as winner, but I couldn't be more proud of the way these guys have contributed to this program and to this basketball family."
Sullivan's 24 points were the most for the senior since he scored 20 points at Arkansas on January 16. The game was his 10th with 20 or more points this season. Josh Wallace added 14 points with four assists, while Rob Chubb had six points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
"Coach kept calling plays for me, and my teammates were screaming for me," Sullivan said. "They wanted me to get the ball and it felt good just going back to those days. Those six minutes felt good for a period of time, but I would rather have those six minutes back and get a win."
With 9:31 remaining and Auburn leading 60-59, Tennessee opened a 14-2 run to take a 73-62 lead, their largest lead to that point. A 3-pointer by Jordan McRae capped the run with less than five minutes remaining. Tennessee would widen its advantage all the way to 77-64 at its largest with 3:27 to go.
Auburn (9-21, 3-14) committed 16 turnovers on the night, including eight in the second half. The Vols totaled 22 points off turnovers.
Tennessee (18-11, 10-7) connected on its first three attempts from 3-point range of the game and led 9-5 with 16 minutes left in the first half. Senior Dylan Spencer scored the first points of the night for Auburn, sinking his first 3-point attempt for the first points of his career.
Jordan Price's second 3-pointer of the night cut the gap to 19-15 in favor of the Vols with 10:46 to go before the half. Sullivan sliced the deficit down to 22-20 on his first 3-pointer, then Asauhn Dixon-Tatum's slam tied the game at 24 with seven minutes left in the opening half.
The Tigers took their first lead with 5:20 on the clock at 27-26 on a free throw by Dixon-Tatum. Auburn stretched the advantage to 33-30 on two free throws by Wallace with two minutes to go before the intermission.
Brian Greene, Jr. stretched the Auburn run to 8-0 with a fast break layup and a 35-30 lead with less than a minute to go before the half.
Tennessee used a 12-3 run to take a 50-47 lead with 14:13 to go in the second half. Sullivan then went on a personal 8-2 run that featured back-to-back three-point plays to give the Tigers a 55-52 lead with 12:23 on the clock.
Auburn cut the deficit to 78-72 with 90 seconds to go on back-to-back 3-pointers by Noel Johnson after Sullivan fouled out with 2:22 left. Noel Johnson hit his third 3-pointer in less than two minutes to make it 80-75 with six seconds left.
Trae Golden and McRae each scored 21 points to lead the Volunteers. Jarnell Stokes added a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers close the regular season on Saturday Mississippi State. The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and will be televised by FSN.