Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Men's Basketball
KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 28 - Auburn’s Denver Jones (12) during the game between the #11 Auburn Tigers and the #4 Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn Tigers

Auburn Falls to Tennessee Due to Knecht's Career Day

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (EETV) - Auburn hit the road for their midweek game this week, heading up north to take on the 4th-ranked and SEC-leading Tennessee Volunteers. Despite one of Auburn’s better road SEC performances of the season, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the Vols, and Auburn lost 92-84.

Both teams played excellent defense early, with the score sitting at just 16-13 in favor of Tennesse near the halfway mark in the first half. However, from that point on, the officials began letting the players play considerably less on both sides, calling fouls on incredibly light contact on both areas of the floor. Because of this, both offenses caught fire in the latter part of the half, and the Volunteers entered the locker room with a 44-40 lead at the half.

In the second half, both offenses continued to shine, and then Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht took over the game. The senior guard had 39 points in the game, 27 of which came after the halftime break. Knecht was completely unstoppable one-on-one, making contested shots consistently, both from within the arc and beyond it. Only when Auburn began to double and even triple-cover Knecht was he slowed down.

Auburn continued to keep pace as a team, however, even taking a lead as large as eight points after a KD Johnson free throw with 12:17 left to play. However, from that point, Knecht could not be stopped, recording 25 of the Volunteers’ final 37 points. Auburn trailed by as little as four with 2:10 left to play, but two quick layups from Tennessee put the final nail in the Tigers’ coffin for the night.  

Auburn’s leading scorer on the night was Johni Broome, the junior forward racking up 23 points. Broome also led Auburn in rebounds and assists with 9 and 5, respectively. He also made two 3-pointers on the night and didn’t commit a single foul. In his first game back from injury, forward Jaylin Williams also impressed, recording 12 points, three rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers in 21 minutes played.

“He was ready to go,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said when asked about Williams’s performance. “We wanted to start him. My guess was I thought he played about 15 minutes, but you know we’re playing for a championship and he was playing well.”

Auburn’s offense, something that has consistently hindered them in SEC road games this season, was not the issue tonight for the Tigers. Auburn shot 27-59 (46%) from the field and 9-22 (41%) from three, two marks that, along with a point total of 84 and 20 assists on 27 made field goals, would’ve had many Auburn fans feeling great about the game’s result if they heard them beforehand.

Unfortunately for Auburn, the defense was not able to hold up, allowing Tennessee to shoot 28-55 (51%) from the field and 9-17 (53%) from beyond the arc, two numbers that would end up spelling doom for the Tigers. The Vols also out-rebounded Auburn 37-30 and committed two fewer turnovers. 

“Our defense definitely let us down,” said Pearl. “And obviously Dalton [Knecht] was terrific. He was really hard to stop when he made a lot of tough shots.”

Knecht’s 39 points on the night tied a mark that was both his season and career-high, and his performance was instrumental in carrying Tennessee to the win.

As for Auburn, the Tigers now sit sixth in the SEC at 10-5 and need some help from the teams in front of them in order to secure a top-four seed that would give them a double-bye for the SEC Tournament in Nashville next month. Auburn will look to rebound from the loss on Saturday when they welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs to Neville Arena.