McRae, Stokes help Vols beat Auburn 78-67
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
McRae scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half as Tennessee (11-5, 2-1 SEC) never trailed and won for the fifth time in its last six games. Stokes scored 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Josh Richardson had 15 points. Antonio Barton and Jeronne Maymon added 11 points each.
Tennessee bounced back after blowing a 14-point halftime lead Saturday in a 57-56 home loss to Texas A&M, which made a game-winning 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds remaining. The Vols avoided the mistakes down the stretch that haunted them Saturday.
Auburn faced an early dilemma when Harrell, who entered the night with an SEC-leading 19.3 points per game, picked up his second foul barely two minutes into the game. With Harrell on the bench, Auburn seemed out of sorts as Tennessee raced to an 11-4 lead.
That's when Auburn coach Tony Barbee put Harrell back in the game and gambled that his star guard wouldn't pick up a third foul. The move paid off.
Although Tennessee eventually extended its lead to 16-6, Harrell scored eight points and sank consecutive 3-pointers in a span of just over two minutes as Auburn got back into the game. Harrell went on to play 11 minutes in the first half without getting that third foul as Auburn continued to stay within striking distance.
Tennessee led 33-28 at halftime thanks largely to Richardson and Stokes. Richardson scored 13 points in the first half while Stokes had eight points and eight rebounds. But Auburn remained very much in the game despite having eight turnovers and only one assist in the first half. Tennessee threw away an inbounds pass in the closing seconds of the half, allowing Malcolm Canada to sink a 3-pointer at the buzzer that cut the margin to five.
Auburn got within 33-31 when Shamsid-Deen sank a 3-pointer 12 seconds into the second half. Tennessee's hot second-half shooting helped the Vols extend the lead to as much as 12 points, but each time the game threatened to get out of hand, Auburn responded with a spurt to regain momentum.
But as close as Auburn occasionally got, the Tigers never could take the lead. Tennessee shot 51 percent (26 of 51) overall Saturday and went 20 of 25 from the free-throw line in the second half to seal the victory.
Hall of Famer Bernard King, who starred for the Vols from 1974-77, watched the game from behind Tennessee's bench and received a standing ovation when he was introduced during a first-half timeout. King, the first Tennessee men's basketball player to have his jersey retired, visited his alma mater before heading to Memphis to receive the National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award next week.