March 4, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. --
Allen Payne will be looking for a happy Senior Night (Anthony Hall photo)
Allen Payne figures it will be an emotional time in his last game in Auburn Arena on Wednesday night. It figures to be a pretty tough assignment, too.
Tennessee will be the guest for Senior Night as Payne, Chris Denson and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum say good-bye to the home fans.
"I will have to control my emotions a little bit," Payne said. "Four years have gone by so fast, plus my family will be here. It will be an exciting time, but I just have to contain it going into the game."
Auburn's uneven season has two regular-season games remaining: Wednesday's 7 p.m. home game against the Vols and a Saturday afternoon game at Texas A&M. The Tigers are 13-14 overall and 5-11 in the SEC. The Vols, which beat Auburn 78-67 on Jan. 15, are 18-11 overall and 9-7 in the league.
Denson has started all 27 games. Payne and Dixon-Tatum have each started 26. Payne said the seniors have talked about Game No. 28.
"We want to go out on a high note and give the fans something to look forward to going into the SEC Tournament," Payne said.
Auburn coach Tony Barbee predicted it will be an emotional game.
"Allen and Chris have been a part of this program for four years and Asauhn has been a big part of it for two years. Hopefully, we can channel that emotion to a good effort come game time."
And, in practical terms, more rebounds. Tennessee outrebounded Auburn 42-28 and outscored the Tigers 23-9 at the free throw line in the first meeting.
"We have to control the inside with the big boys in there and we have to be able to rebound and stop them in transition. That has been our main focus all week," Payne said.
Tennessee led Auburn most of the way in the first meeting, though the Tigers threatened as the game wound down.
"We were right there towards the end, but we had a defensive breakdown towards the end of the game that cost us," Payne said.
A bounce-back effort would be a good for the seniors with the SEC Tournament on the horizon.
"It would be big for us individually and, more importantly, as a team it would be big for us to carry that momentum into the SEC with a good win over Tennessee," Payne said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: